Local groups are still working to bring easier-access coronavirus testing for Cleveland-area residents, including offering pop-up, drive-thru testing locations at local churches.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health and MetroHealth System offered drive-thru coronavirus testing Thursday at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in the Fairfax neighborhood on Cleveland’s East Side.
The event was part of the Greater Cleveland Congregation’s Color of Health initiative, which has brought together 17 area church congregations to offer free, on-site COVID-19 testing on a rotating basis through August. MetroHealth and the county board of health are also working on bringing more accessible testing to Northeast Ohio through July, including testing days at additional churches.
Fairfax is a majority-Black neighborhood, and Black Americans are dying at a higher rate of COVID-19. MetroHealth’s Bridget Gill said testing is an important factor in preventing coronavirus spread and fatalities.
“We have people without symptoms, but they may be exposed to a vulnerable population, elderly, disabled, somebody who might not have such a great outcome, so we want people to know if they’re positive so they can take measures to protect those around them,” Gill said.
The Color of Health initiative aims to facilitate testing in the community and inform congregations about the testing sites, said Greater Cleveland Congregations Executive Director Keisha Krumm.
“When we announced the event, it hit capacity within three days,” Krumm said. “The registration actually closed out Monday.”
Thursday's testing event offered walk-up and drive-thru options, Krumm said, and more than 130 people got tested. All were given masks and gloves as they left, she said.
“The MetroHealth staff is really incredible,” Krumm said. “They got people in, they got them tested, and once they were tested, we were able to give them PPE.”
MetroHealth and the county will contact those who were tested with the results, Krumm said.
The next round of Color of Health testing will be available from 9 a.m. to noon on July 17 at Greater New Canaan Ministries.
GCC has been calling on chain pharmacies to provide more COVID-19 testing within Cleveland city limits, since the group’s research shows current testing focuses on more affluent suburbs and exacerbates existing racial health inequities. The organization is in the process of scheduling a meeting with CVS Pharmacy to address those concerns, Krumm said, but has not received a response from other pharmacies it reached out to.
To find your nearest coronavirus testing location, go to the Ohio Department of Health’s website.