Health department opens new testing site in hot spot for African-Americans with COVID-19

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INDIANAPOLIS– The Marion County Health Department is working to increase testing in some hotspots where a large number of African-Americans are testing positive for the coronavirus.

Testing began Thursday at Eastern Star Church on E. 30th Street, but it wasn’t smooth sailing after many showed up without registering online first.

“This site is for a zip code (46218) area that has a high concentration of people with COVID-19. an underserved area disparaging with healthcare,” said Virgil Madden, Incident Command for the health department.

It’s also an area with many people over the age of 65. Other factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity, which make 46218 a hot spot. But The health department says they’ve been working around the clock with their resources to do more. 

“Dr. Caine along with the mass unit and the city of Indianapolis with the mayor are looking at zipcode hot zones for lack of better terminology and they’re looking at where we need to be and how we need to get various populations tested,” said Madden.

So far there are only two sites for testing in Marion County.  The Indiana State Fairgrounds is open Monday through Friday for testing at Gate 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Eastern Star church tests on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Eastern Star Church is a dual-site where drive-in and walk-up testing is on  Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

We asked the health department if they had any plans to increase testing.

“I know Doctor Virginia Caine is looking for other sites probably as we’re speaking,” said Madden.

We also asked what took so long to get testing in black communities when the data was released weeks ago.

“When the data was reviewed we worked expeditiously to find sites and to get out to the community,” said Madden.

In the meantime, they’re hoping these two sites will fill the gap for the thousands who need testing. 

“Our goal is to test as many people as we feasibly can. However, there is a machine that calculates and does all of this stuff for us. So we have the capacity to go up to 200 almost to 300. So I’d say 200 is our goal at this site,” said Madden. 

Here’s how you can register for testing. After you register, the health department will call you with an appointment. 

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