With Fulton County officials saying the number of residents getting tested for COVID-19 has decreased lately, the Neighbor visited one site to see if that was the case.
Since Aug. 24, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), the county government and the Fulton Board of Health have partnered to operate a free pop-up COVID-19 mobile testing site at the former North Springs Center shopping center located at 7300 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.
The Neighbor visited the site Sept. 18, the day it was to close. However, the site will remain open through Oct. 23, Sandy Springs spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said. Riley Erickson, CORE’s site manager for Mobile Unit 6, leads of one of two teams that oversees testing in north Fulton and runs the Sandy Springs location.
“This is one of our larger volume sites,” he said. “If anything, this is the site our staff comes to excited because we have a huge turnout pretty much every day we’re testing. (It’s) kind of a range but usually over 200 people (each day). We’d love for that to be twice that (amount).
“We have the capacity at every single one of our sites to test 500 people (per day) from 9 to 5 and sometimes more. Sometimes we’ll have 600 or more test kits. We can always accommodate the needs of a site. If we see that there is a larger need, we’ll bring more test kits the next time we’re there, stuff like that.”
At the Fulton Board of Commissioners’ Sept. 16 recess meeting, county officials said they’re pleased with the recent decline in coronavirus cases. Doug Schuster of Emergency Management Services International, an emergency management firm working with Fulton, said the county’s seven-day average of cases had dropped from 400 on July 24 to 87 on Sept. 14.
Regarding the county’s recent decline in the number of residents getting tested for the virus, officials are puzzled about it.
“Testing demand has decreased over the past weeks,” said Matt Kallmyer, director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency. “We’re still trying to figure out why. We’re working with our partners to educate people on getting tested.”
Erickson, who said he’s disappointed more residents don’t get tested, had some theories on why the demand for testing has dropped.
“I know people in my life who could get tested more,” he said. “I think everybody has somebody (in their lives) that they think could try to protect or try to help provide the service of a test just for that peace of mind. But again, this isn’t an official policy or anything. It’s just something I’ve noticed. I think it’s easier for people to put kind of the public health risk in the back of their mind and completely leave themselves outside it or away from it.
“Part of that is not getting tested or, if you do get tested, you have that nagging thing of, ‘What if I do have it?’ I think for some people or maybe what seems like most people, maybe it’s easier to just say, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ Keep your mask on, to protect yourself in your own way. Not everybody’s comfortable coming out there.”
Sandy Springs residents interviewed at the pop-up site said they were getting tested for a variety of reasons.
Chris, who declined to give his last name, said he and his wife Peyton were getting tested because they had to.
“We are required to for travel,” he said.
Ada Duque and her daughter, Salome Castro, got tested as a precaution.
“She has a little sore throat,” Duque said of her daughter.
Residents who want to get tested at the Sandy Springs site or at another location can schedule appointments the night before or the day of by texting “COVID” to 678-802-9624. Although scheduling an appointment in advance is encouraged, test takers can also register onsite if they are unable to register in advance or do not have access to a smart phone.
Testing site dates, locations, and/or times are subject to change. For more information on that site or any others in Fulton, visit coreresponse.org/covid19-atlanta.