Local testing conducted as US hit grim new number of COVID-19 deaths

By: Terry Harris | Twitter: @SSDispatch
Posted: June 5, 2020 | 3:45 p.m.

REGION – As the US passed the 100,000 mark for COVID-19 deaths across the country last week, the Virginia Department of Health, Crater Health District and the Virginia Army National Guard partnered with locations throughout the area to offer COVID-19 community testing. In all, seven testing events were scheduled between May 23-30 in Petersburg, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Sussex, Emporia/Greensville, Hopewell, and Surry.

The tests were made available for persons age five and older with COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, and new loss of taste or smell. Also eligible for the testing were those who had been in contact with someone with COVID-19, were pregnant or had underlying medical conditions that put them at risk such as being age 65 and older or working in a congregate setting.

On May 28, Surry County’s testing day, 99 people showed up at the Parks and Recreation Center for  the opportunity to determine if they were, in fact, infected with the COVID-19 virus according to Ray Phelps, Surry County Chief of Emergency Management.

“We partnered with Crater Health District, the Virginia Army National Guard and Parks and Rec for the event,” Phelps explained. “The people administering the tests wore full PPE – infectious control PPE suits, gloves, masks.  They were very careful and efficient.”

He described the event which ran from 9 a.m. until noon as very well-organized, saying, “People would drive up and immediately be greeted and directed to the first checkpoint.  There they’d check to see if you pre-registered.  If you had not, you’d be directed to an area where you’d be asked a series of questions and assure that you had ID with you.  If you had pre-registered, you’d automatically be sent to the second checkpoint – which was just used to verify registration. Then you’d drive on to the Testing Area where they would do the swab and you’d drive away.  That was it.  People never got out of their cars or even rolled down their windows except to get the tests done.  Then at noon, the people from Crater took all the tests which had been bagged, tagged, and stored in a cooler with them to be tested at the lab.  It all flowed very well.”

According to Phelps, they were very pleased that 99 of the 100 tests which had been allotted to be available to Surry were utilized, and he added that results of the tests would be expected about a week later. 

“We are at 11 cases in Surry County,” Phelps said Sunday, “and we are hoping for there not to be a large increase in numbers.  We don’t expect one, as we’ve been very fortunate, and our numbers thus far have been fairly low.  I’m not saying we’re not going to have some more, but we’re not expecting a large increase. We’re certainly… hopeful.”

When asked to what he attributes the low number of local cases in comparison to nearby areas, he speculated that it may be partly because Surry County has no nursing homes or prisons, then added, “Of course there always is the possibility that there could be a surge, but Surry has been very lucky.”

“We’re still promoting that everybody do exactly as the governor has said,” he continued. “Wear a mask in indoor facilities, practice social distancing. We’re certainly hoping people will do that.  It is concerning that you see a number of people who are not wearing masks. We’re asking all our department heads and community leaders to continue to wear a mask to set an example, and urging everyone to please continue to do your part in taking precautions to prevent the spread. We’re not out of this. There’s still no end date. We just ask everyone to please be respectful of others and do what we need to do.”  

Copyright 2020 Womack Publishing 

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