Marion County public COVID-19 testing to begin next week

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indianapolis’ 46218 zip code is a hot zone for the coronavirus, said Marion County Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine, and will be the site of the county’s first public COVID-19 testing site.

“We’re gonna have a testing site at the Eastern Star Church at our main location on East 30th Street in Arlington Woods where if you can drive up, drive up. If you need to catch the bus, it stops right in front of our church,” said Pastor Jeffrey Johnson.

Dr. Caine said she hopes essential front line community workers will take advantage of the new widespread testing.

“Anybody who works in the food industry, fast food, quick service type of thing, we want you to come out and get tested,” she said. “I really want to try to get as many frontline folks tested or have the availability to do the testing. Call us if you think you’re not on the list for essential service, and we will definitely make things available for you.”

To be tested, applicants will need to visit www.marionhealth.org/indycovid and register for an appointment.

Announcement of the testing aimed at Indianapolis’ African American community comes as the county health department released demographics about the toll the coronavirus has taken on the city’s community of color.

Dr. Caine explained that African American residents were three times as likely to be infected by the virus, 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die as compared to white residents.

“We know there is a greater risk of complications that come from economic or healthcare or the lack thereof or the lack of insurance,” said Pastor Johnson. “I’m not surprised at all. When you listen to the national narrative, our city lines up with that. It’s a community that has been for a long time overlooked for economic development. It’s a community that has no grocery stores in it, it’s a food desert, and when you look at these inequities that take place, that’s what leads to these disparities that come up. So, I’m not surprised at all.”

Medical analysts and elected leaders agree that virus testing results will be keys to determining an appropriate timetable to relaxing Indiana’s stay-at-home orders.

“There are real concerns about getting back to normal too quickly. We want to be responsible. We want to be responsive. We know how disruptive this period has been,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “It would be extraordinarily dangerous, in my opinion, if we made the mistake of essentially trying to return to a complete sense of normalcy too quickly, running the risks that are associated with reinstituting the virus maybe even more aggressively than we have experienced it.”

Dr. Caine said the county was hampered in earlier attempts to open up coronavirus testing locations due to a lack of testing materials.

The IU Medical Center has supplied the materials for the Marion County testing.

More from the Marion County Public Health Department 

Residents who develop symptoms of the Coronavirus including fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath can call 317-221-5515 or visit www.marionhealth.org/indycovid. A survey will be live on this website soon, and residents will need to complete the registration and health screening to receive an appointment before visiting the testing location. All COVID-19 tests conducted at Eastern Star Church will be conducted by appointment only. This site will be managed by Virgil R. Madden, Marion County Public Health Department COVID-19 Site Incident Commander and Director of Civic Engagement.

Residents and affected workers impacted by COVID-19 restrictions should visit the city’s resource guide, which can be viewed at indy.gov/covid. Spanish speaking residents can view the resource guide here. Individuals who are unable to navigate the city’s website can call 317-327-4MAC between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to talk to a customer service representative. Those in need of non-emergency police services should call 317-327-3811. Residents not currently experiencing an emergency who have questions about COVID-19 are asked to call 1-877-826-0011.

According to the CDC, if residents test positive for COVID-19, they must:

  • Stay home
  • Separate themselves from other people and pets in the home
  • Monitor symptoms for any signs of the infection’s progression
  • If they experience trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, or bluish lips or face, they should seek medical attention immediately.
  • Anyone in the community calling 9-1-1 is asked to be forthright with the dispatcher about any flu-like issues they, or any member of their family, may be experiencing – even if the dispatcher does not ask specifically. Residents should meet responders at the door or on the front porch, if they are able. This allows for a quick assessment in an open area and helps reduce risk of unnecessary exposure.

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