CoronavirusFeaturedNewsThe NorthSider

Site offers COVID-19 testing, perhaps peace of mind

FOUNTAIN PARK – Cora Page wasn’t sure she needed a COVID-19 test. “I’m protected by the blood of Jesus,” she asserted.

On the other hand, “If it was free, and since they may come back later and say, ‘You have to pay for this test,’ and I can’t afford it, I just felt maybe I would do it now,” said Page, who lives in Jennings.  

So Page came to a mobile test site behind the Victor Roberts Building at 1408 N. Kingshighway Blvd. on Monday and lined up a social distance apart from others. Along with those others, she underwent the somewhat-uncomfortable test to determine whether she had the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The testing, at one of a number of one-day mobile test sites around the area, was arranged by Affinia Healthcare, the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and state Rep. Steve Roberts, D-St. Louis.

The site will be open from 9 a.m. to noon every Monday until further notice. The free tests are offered without referral by a doctor or appointments.

A major reason for establishing the site is that there have been a number of positive tests in the area, in the 63113 ZIP code, Roberts said. 

About 50 people were tested during the first operation at the site on May 4.

“The word of mouth has kind of spread,” Roberts said. “We’ve got even more people out here getting tested.”

About 125 people were tested on Monday.

The tests are especially important because people can be transmitters of the disease and not even know it, Roberts said.

One person who especially needed the test was Anthony Golliday of University City. Golliday, who works in a grocery store, left work about a week ago after he developed symptoms for COVID-19. 

“They wanted me to be tested before I could come back,” Golliday said. “I had a bad cold, runny nose and was a little feverish with a cough.”

Two others who were tested were Aron Worthan and his grandson Jacoby Machin. Both grimaced as a nurse dressed in goggles, gloves, a mask and covering over the body and hair administered the test.

In charge of the testing was Dr. Kendra Holmes, vice president and chief operating officer for Affinia. 

“A lot of the individuals we’ve been seeing tell us they’ve been exposed to someone who has been positive, but they were asymptomatic,” Holmes said. They weren’t authorized to be tested at the time, when test kits had to be reserved for those with actual symptoms. 

“A lot of them are health care workers,” Holmes said. “We’re seeing some people who previously just didn’t have an opportunity to receive testing.”

People maintain social distance as they wait to get tested at an Affinia Healthcare site next to the Roberts Building, 1408 N. Kingshighway Blvd. in Fountain Park, on Monday, May 11, 2020. Photo by Jim Merkel
One of those who got tested was Dr. Rona Robinson-Hill, a professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., who lives in Dogtown. She worked in the pulmonary and pathology field at Washington University in St. Louis. 

“I know we will not know the true numbers unless 95 percent of the population in American is tested, and so that is why I’m here,” Robinson-Hill said. “I don’t have any symptoms, but I also care for my mother.”

Terrance Smith came after he took a trip over the weekend by plane and train.

“I live with older people, and I wanted to make sure I was safe,” Smith said. “I’m basically pretty careful. I don’t go out too much, and I always wear a mask.”

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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