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Testing site held in Carriere

Free COVID-19 tests were available in Carriere on Saturday at a drive-thru test site run by the State Department of Health and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and more free drive-thru test sites will regularly be available throughout the state.

People who participated in the testing should receive their results in two to five days, said site leader Alisa Williams, with MSDH. The free testing was meant to increase the availability of testing for the virus, because Mississippi is a rural state, said Williams.

Williams encouraged people with symptoms of COVID-19 not to wait for a test site, but to call their local healthcare provider and try to get tested. People with COVID-19 symptoms should not go to work or interact with other people until they can be tested, said Williams.
Everyone should continue non-pharmaceutical interventions, like practicing good hygiene, social distancing and only leaving the house for essential reasons, Williams said.

Individuals who participated in Saturday’s testing session had to make an appointment by calling a number or using a smartphone app to be screened. People with a fever plus another symptom, like difficulty breathing, were given voucher numbers that were used to gain access to the test site, said Williams.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st class Nicole Levy was one of the medics administering tests on Saturday. Before administering tests, Levy donned a pair of gloves, a surgical gown, a second pair of gloves, and a PAPR—a hood or hat that filters the air for the wearer to protect them from germs or respiratory droplets.

The test is similar to a flu test, said Levy, with a swab that is inserted three to four inches into one nostril, rotated and sealed in a biohazard bag. The tests are then placed in a cooler to be transported to the public health lab in Jackson, said Williams.

“It’s better to get tested and know that you have it, rather than being afraid, because you don’t want to spread it to anybody that you love,” said Levy.

Levy will take the test herself when she is done administering tests at drive-thru sites.

Free drive-thru testing will continue regularly throughout the state, with the next scheduled test sites in Clinton, Raleigh, Eupora and Tunica. The MSDH website and Facebook page is expected to have updated information concerning where people can be tested for COVID-19.