NEW ORLEANS — If you’re concerned that you may be infected with COVID-19, the City of New Orleans and local health providers are now providing mobile, walk up testing. The first testing site is set up near Xavier University and it will move in the coming weeks. The site locations are specifically chosen for people who may have trouble getting health care.
On a sunny, warm morning, New Orleanians came, waited, and got tested for COVID-19 at the mobile site.
“Any symptoms at all, whether it’s a headache, or something unusual, why not get tested?” said John Hernandez.
“Oh, I’m very concerned, because I wouldn’t want to spread it to anybody else,” said Orson Hood.
“Well I came because I want to know if I have it or not. I just hate to just wonder,” Cathamas Montgomery said.
Montgomery came here for peace of mind. She works, a blessing that oddly curses her with worries.
“So, I’m washing my hands until I can’t wash them anymore. I got sanitizer in the car. When I get out the car, I’m using it. When I get into work, I’m using it,” said Montgomery.
Unlike the federal testing site, this site is a walk-up. That is deliberate. The city partnered with LCMC Health, Xavier University, and LSU Health Sciences to bring COVID testing to communities that for too long, didn’t have much access to health care.
“It should not matter where you live or what kind of transportation you get around. That shouldn’t determine your access to getting tested for this,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the head of the city’s health Department.
“It’s money. That’s the problem, it’s money,” said Cathamas Montgomery.
Similar to how the city designated hot spots for the number of positive COVID cases, it’s done the same when it comes to the lack of testing. Some of those areas include: Gentilly, Hollygrove, and New Orleans. Many of those neighborhoods are communities of color. State data shows in Orleans parish alone, 242 African Americans have died from COVID 19. The second highest number of deaths is from the white community, with 60.
“We’re encouraging anybody, who has had symptoms or has symptoms right now, or has been around somebody who has been known to have COVID to come and get tested, with no cost to them,” said Dr. John Heaton of LCMC Health.
The virus didn’t create the disparity in healthcare, but it has made it even more glaring. The mobile testing site near Xavier University will be held daily until Friday, from 8 am to 4 pm or until they reach their maximum of 250 tests each day. The city plans to have other mobile sites in the coming weeks.