Update, April 21: Of the more than 300 people tested at Good News Clinics April 19, 150 tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Facebook post from the clinics.
More than half the people who tested positive were not showing symptoms at the time. Liz Coates, executive director of the clinics, said many patients had been exposed through their workplaces or families and qualified for testing.
"In many cases, those people who were asymptomatic who were tested were driving a car full of people with symptoms, for example, or had a known exposure in their workplace or in their families," Coates said.
Northeast Georgia Health System partnered with the clinics for the event.
One local group is making sure people with easy access to health care aren’t the only ones getting tested for COVID-19.
To help uninsured and low-income families in Hall County, Good New Clinics and Northeast Georgia Health System offered free coronavirus testing for over 300 people on April 19.
“This is an injustice we’re happy to be fighting,” said Liz Coates, executive director of Good News. “We know there are sick uninsured people who feel alone. We’re able to give them answers and education.”
Cars lined up outside the Good News clinic off of Pine Street, as the nonprofits’ employees and NGHS nursing staff helped patients fill out personal information, have their noses swabbed and receive educational material about proper quarantine protocols in Spanish and English — all while staying in the vehicle.
Because of the uncomfortable nature of the tests, which involve a deep nasal swab, Coates said only those who truly needed it offered their specimen. She said most of these patients showed COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to the virus.
The results are expected to come out on Wednesday, April 22.
Coates said the nonprofit would not have the funding to serve such a high volume without the help of NGHS. The health system provided all of the COVID-19 tests, tents and educational materials.
“We’re grateful that NGHS realizes and partnered with us because COVID-19 is an equal opportunity virus,” Coates said. “To offer equitable testing opportunities is the right thing to do.”
Although she can’t anticipate how the large-scale testing will affect Good News, Coates said she knows the event solidified more relationships with Hall residents.
“To us, this was an opportunity for outreach, and to do our part in the community,” she said. “Our motivation for being a host site was to connect patients who do lack in health care.”
NGHS said in a statement late Monday that Hall County has the sixth-highest number of cases in the state and is in the “severe” category of infection with a rate of 377 positive cases per 100,000 residents.