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Mobile COVID-19 unit provides testing to underserved parts of Augusta community

Many mobile testing facilities are beginning to pop up across underserved areas in Augusta. (Source: WRDW)
Many mobile testing facilities are beginning to pop up across underserved areas in Augusta. (Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 4:03 PM EDT
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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Laney Walker is home to a rich history, but it’s also home to several public housing complexes, poverty, and people at high risk for COVID-19.

This neighborhood is just one example of how Augusta's testing continues to grow.

“I think they’ve been encouraged,” Dr. Robert Campbell with Christ Community Health said. “And our hope is that we’re able to identify early cases of COVID-19 and healthy ones as individuals quarantine effectively.”

If not for the partnership between Health Clinic Christ Community and Augusta Housing Authority, the Laney Walker neighbors may have not been tested otherwise.

The Richmond County Health Department found this is an area with limited access to testing because they lack the resources like the transportation to get to sites.

But the medical officials also found this is an area that likely needs testing the most.

“Higher risk populations in our community,” Campbell said. “People living in congregation settings, close quarters, and in particular of people who may have commodities, other healthcare issues.”

So far, the testing initiative has already served two public housing complexes. They want to reach 11 more, and that equals about a few thousand more Augusta families tested.

And the team says they want to go beyond just public housing, too.

“We’re talking about those strategies and how to move forward as the resources become more available and how to deploy them,” Campbell said.

As Augusta's testing capabilities continue to grow, so too do projects like these.

Campbell says the testing would not be possible without developments from hospitals like AU Health. Their labs have helped ramp up testing across the state.

“So having that rapid accurate testing is important,” Campbell said.

It’s even helped change who can get tested. Now, you don’t necessarily need to show symptoms or be certain of previous exposure just to get tested.

The new criteria now reduces the unknown COVID-19 cases and expands data collection efforts for all of the city. In the weeks ahead, they’re looking to new lab technologies to enhance the rate of testing even more.

They’ve given 200 tests so far and they’ve confirmed at least one positive. Christ Community Health says they’re still waiting on the majority of results.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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