Record number tested at Kanawha County COVID event

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - While more events are postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions that are being put back into place, hundreds of people on Tuesday attended a drive-thru testing event at Capital High School.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department said 851 people were tested on Tuesday, making it the largest event they have hosted. This follows 37 new COVID cases being diagnosed during the weekend, the largest two-day increase the county has seen.

“People come back from trips, they go back to work, they go back to their normal lives,” Dr. Sherri Young said. “We have seen families that have been affected by this. We have seen contacts. It began as travel associated, but now we are seeing spread within workplaces and community spread.”

People started lining up an hour and a half before the testing event began, and 200 people were tested within the first hour of gates being opened. Young said people were not required to have COVID symptoms to be tested as people can carry the virus without knowing it.

“We do know that those numbers are rising and we do have the highest rate of rise, as well as we do have the highest potential for rise,” Young said. “We are lucky that we haven’t seen the surge into the hospitals yet, but it’s something that we have our eye on.”

George Gates was one of the many people who waited in line to get tested. He did not knowingly come into contact with anyone who has COVID, but wanted to know his status before going on a vacation next month.

“I’ve always wanted to get tested anyways,” Gates said. “I am a cancer survivor. I nearly died a few years ago, and just as a precaution, I wanted to get tested and checked because I am considered at risk.”

The testing line was its longest when the site first opened, around lunch, and right before it closed. Young said they learned from problems that have happened at previous events and made changes to reduce wait times that reached three hours at previous events.

The Capital High School parking lot allowed three testing lines to spread the crowd out.

“We didn’t know how many people were going to be in line, so we’re actually on a break from work today, and decided to come up here and get tested real quick,” Jennifer Harper said. “It’s going real smooth.”

“We want to make sure that our hospital community is safe, medical staff is safe,” Young said. “We want to make sure that everyone is ready because when we see high community spread, then we will start seeing numbers back into the nursing homes, and possibly schools and other places. So, we want to be prepared for everything as it comes forward.”

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