Long line surrounds Durham church as it offers free COVID-19 tests

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The opportunity for free drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing brought cab driver James Holly to St. Joseph's AME Church in Durham hours before the planned start time. We spoke with as he waited at the head of a long line.

"Man, this COVID-19 ain't no joke," he said. "This stuff's serious!"

So serious, that Dr. Maria Small said she and other medical professionals organizers chose this church on Fayetteville Street, "Because people have a need to get this done. In Durham, this is one of the first testing sites in the community that's free. You don't have to register ahead of time.'

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Dr. Arnett Coleman agreed saying, "We have a higher fatality rate among the African American and LatinX community and we really need to reach that community," he said. "And when we consider that 85 percent of the fatalities here in Durham will be in the population of 65 and up, but it's transmitted by the asymptomatic population which is less than 40 years old."

The group wants to connect with people like Thelma Glenn White.

"I don't have any symptoms, but I want to make sure I don't have the virus," White said. "My husband is recovering from cancer. He's a disabled veteran and he had treatment for throat cancer in Feb. and I have to be extremely careful. That's why I have the mask and the shield on."

Dr. Small said in addition to the free tests, "They receive educational materials. Some of those are from the state of North Carolina about COVID-19. We also have educational materials about where you can go in Durham if you don't have a doctor, even if you don't have insurance. Positive results come in a phone call, negative results in the mail."

Everyone who waited for their test also heard the now-familiar reminders to wash their hands frequently and keep their distance while in public places.

"People coming in and out of my cab, and I ask them to put the mask on. And I keep Lysol spray. Every time one gets out, I spray it with my Lysol," cab driver James Holly said.

Authorities know awareness of the virus and good hygiene can stop the spread as they continue providing tests to those concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19.
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