MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the second day in a row, the Monongalia County Health Department, with the help of the West Virginia National Guard, administered free COVID-19 tests to the public as part of Gov. Justice’s mandate.
On the first day, Friday, May 22, 386 tests were administered in a Big Lots parking lot in Westover according to Dr. Lee Smith, the executive director of the MCHD. On the second day, tests were offered at the Mountainview Elementary School and the parking lot of West Virginia University’s Coliseum. The goal of the governor’s mandate was to figure out how vulnerable populations, like African Americans and those with special needs, were being affected by the virus in certain counties.
Charlene Marshall, a former mayor of Morgantown, took her test at Mountainview Elementary on Saturday morning.
“It was fine, much easier than I thought,” Marshall said. “Earlier, someone had kind of scared me, but it was no problem.”
Like everyone else, Marshall had to provide basic contact information, like her name, phone number and date of birth so that she could be reached when test results are ready after a few days.
“Health officials can get a clear picture of who has the virus based on age, gender, ethnicity demographics,” Dr. Smith said.
Testing on both days ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. By 10 a.m. on Saturday, Mountainview had administered roughly 50 tests and the Coliseum had done 60 according to a spokesperson from the MCHD. When it was all said and done, 1,003 people had been tested on both days according to the MCHD.
The National Guard unit working at all three sites were very thorough in order to ensure no personnel taking swab samples left contaminated. This is according to Staff Sargent Phillip Hedrick who said the National Guard had put in place a “personnel decontamination” mechanism for safety reasons.
The process, Hedrick said, used a solution consisting of one-third cup of bleach to a gallon of water, which is thoroughly sprayed all over the protective equipment the soldier had been wearing.
The thorough nature of the testing process impressed Marshall. She said the setup at Mountainview Elementary was “great” and that she had confidence in Dr. Smith and the National Guard because things ran smoothly. She added that she was happy to see the two organizations working together because as she has always said, working together is important.
Dr. Smith and Marshall both encouraged all those who can to get tested.
“Because we possibly have so many people walking around, maybe they don’t feel so good and possibly they have it and that’s one of the ways of spreading it around,” Marshall said. “I would just encourage everyone to get the test.”