By Tammy Dunn
Managers, clerks and mayors met last week to develop a plan for anyone wishing to be tested for the virus COVID-19, most notably anyone that has been in contact with an infected individual. The potential schedule includes a testing site in each of the five townships once a week from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Testing results will be available in four to eight days, according to Montgomery County Health Department Director Mary Perez-Baldwin.
In the proposed plan, testing sites will be drive through only with no one expected to exit their vehicle. The plan calls for the county to hire five paramedics and they, along with Montgomery County Emergency Response Director Robbie Smith, are training this week on how to administer the tests. Those individuals will be the only ones who will be in direct contact with the individuals being tested. Smith and the paramedics will all be equipped with the proper personal protection equipment. The tests will be nasal swabs.
Dr. Touber Vang signed off on the proposal, with modifications late Tuesday afternoon. Vang is the physician who the health department works under. County Manager Matthew Woodard said they would do their best to have these requested modifications in place by the end of the week, so that the proposed schedule may move forward.
In addition to the individuals performing the tests, three to four volunteers are needed to help at each site. These individuals will ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed and will help with directional flow as well. Smith and Perez-Baldwin both said they do not envision volunteers having much contact with those being tested. Volunteers will collect and or hand out paperwork and that is the extent of their contact. The volunteers will be provided all the necessary safety equipment. People willing to volunteer to help are asked to call one of the town halls.
Those seeking a test are asked to call the town hall in the town where they plan to be tested to schedule an appointment, which will help with coordination, instead of everyone showing up at one time; however, if possible those without appointments will be tested as well. Perez-Baldwin emphasized the need to fill out paperwork ahead of time. This will help with the flow of testing and allows for more people to be seen. Smith said they are scheduling appointments five minutes apart; therefore, things will need to flow. Paperwork may be obtained at a number of locations ahead of time, including on the town and or county websites, Montgomery Herald website, as well as paper copies being available at the health department. It was emphasized that hand writing will need to be legible. Individuals are also asked to bring their ID cards as well as their insurance cards. Modifications need to be made to the current forms; however, Smith said he would send the updated forms out as soon as possible.
It was noted that anyone in the county might be tested at any site. Residents living in other locations would need to come to the health department site on Mondays. County Manager Matthew Woodard noted the best advice we can give anyone is to continue with the 3 three w’s: Wear mask, Wash hands and Wait, six feet apart.
No one knows exactly how many people will show up for testing. Perez-Baldwin said her department has received numerous calls from individuals wanting to be tested. However, anyone showing symptoms or has been in contact with an infected individual will be told to go home and quarantine. Test sites are listed below.
In addition, the county will supply any organization with masks if requested. Smith also said they would be supplying the local food pantries with masks and asking them to place the masks in the bags they distribute. Anyone wishing to secure masks is asked to call Smith at 910-572-7446.
Testing sites and dates are as follows:
Mondays: Montgomery County Health Department (June 8, June 15 and June 22)
Tuesdays: Biscoe Town Hall (June 9, June 16 and June 23)
Wednesdays: Candor Elementary (June 10, June 17and June 24)
Thursdays: Mt. Gilead, Highland Center (June 11, June 18 and June 25)
Fridays: Star Town Hall (June 12, June 19and June 26)