More than 200 take advantage of free COVID-19 testing at Blytheville First Baptist Church

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A total of 276 people were tested for COVID-19 with the help of East Arkansas Family Health Centers today (Thursday) at First Baptist Church in Blytheville.

East Arkansas Family Health Center held a free drive-thru testing and screening to anyone with or without coronavirus symptoms and with no need of a physician’s referral.

Dr. Valencia Andrews-Pirtle, the County Health Officer for Mississippi County and physician at Healthy Partners, spoke about the importance of getting more tests done in the community.

“We want the virus to die down. If you have the virus and you stay home, the virus just goes away and we pray you don’t get super sick, but if you move around in the community you pass the virus to those that can get super sick or even die,” said Pirtle.

Pirtle added, “We’ve already had our first death in the county so the purpose of getting tested is to make sure you know your status, so you don’t spread it and make even those you love very sick. That’s why you should test to make sure you do not have the virus and if you do you are staying home and you let the virus die down.”

A team of healthcare professionals from East Arkansas Family Health Centers were stationed at different tents to make sure the drive-thru testing ran safely.

Pirtle said, “They brought in a team and there are four tents, the first tent they get information about who you are and how to contact you, we want to be able to contact you to tell you if you have the virus, we’ll even call at 2 in the morning.”

Pirtle continued,“Tent two is free lunch and tent three is more information for demographics, tent four is where they actually swab your nose and then you’re done! It has been going very smoothly.”

Test results are generally available 2-5 days after testing, only those who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus will receive a phone call.

“Calls will only come for those that are positive and then it becomes a team effort with Little Rock, locating you and any of your contacts,” said Pirtle.

Pirtle also mentioned the fact of there now being a spike in the number of cases in rural parts of the country and that it is affecting Mississippi County.

“I definitely think it is helpful for the community because we are increasing in our cases. We lag way behind New York and other places but we knew this was coming. We are seeing a spike in cases of the virus in rural communities and that includes us. We have to know so we can let the virus die down,” said Pirtle

Pirtle stated, “Our community now knows that it is super serious, they’ve heard the message and they know that this is very important.”