Free COVID-19 testing will be offered at New Horizon International Ministries, 404 Eastline Road, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday.
No appointments or insurance is required for those who show up and want to be tested, according to Casey Pearce, associate director of external relations and marketing for the New York Institute of Technology's College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
The NYITCOM is responsible for the testing after receiving a CARES Act grant through the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. Its Delta Population Health Institute, the community outreach arm of the medical school, is conducting the testing as part of its Delta Care-A-Van operation.
“We’re proud to have the opportunity to provide this service to these communities,” said Dr. Brookshield Laurent. “The mission of the Delta Care-A-Van is to address health disparities and health inequities in Arkansas and the Delta region, so this testing program is a perfect fit. We believe these efforts will really help identify and address COVID-19 cases in areas where the virus may otherwise go undetected and spread rapidly.”
NYITCOM faculty, staff and students and Arkansas Community Health Workers Association volunteers are performing the tests. The AMHC and the Arkansas Department of Health are also working with NYITCOM and the DPHI on the operational elements of the events.
Testing sites were chosen based in part by the number of minority populations in those communities. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-Hispanic black people and Hispanic or Latino people are much more likely to contract and spread COVID-19 than non-Hispanic white people, and hospitalization rates are much higher in black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) than non-Hispanic white individuals.
“COVID-19 has disproportionally impacted ethnic minority groups,” Laurent said. “It’s incredibly important that we provide testing opportunities in areas of great need in the Delta.”
NYITCOM and the DPHI are collaborating with local community-based organizations such as food pantries to perform the testing events.
“We want it to be as easy and convenient as possible for people to get tested,” Laurent said. “That’s why we’re holding these events at locations that are already serving individuals who may not otherwise have access to testing.”