Ohio pandemic team holds free COVID-19 testing event in Kent

Arrows placed on the floor to guide those coming to get tested to the check-in center. Photo by Alexandra Golden.

Alexandra Golden Reporter

Kent State University partnered with the city of Kent and the Ohio Pandemic team to offer free COVID-19 testing to the community. 

The testing took place on Thursday, Jan. 28, and Friday, Jan. 29 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kent State Field House. Testing was open to anyone from the university community, along with the general public. 

The testing site had two separate entrances and check-ins. Those who were symptomatic were on one half of the field house and those who were asymptomatic were on the other half. “They never mix,” Joan Seidel, Kent City Health Commissioner, reassured. The symptomatic people were originally going to be outside, but the cold, wind and snow kept people inside. 

Kent State Nursing students were there to help the process run smoothly. On Thursday, Alexis Davis, Lenore Hauck and Aniara Callipo were there for their community clinicals, to volunteer and to help the Red Cross. The nursing students were there to help register everyone coming to get tested. They were on the asymptomatic side and were giving out complimentary packs of five masks for coming to the testing. 

On Thursday, 169 people showed up for testing. On Friday, 124 people showed up for testing. The pandemic team was prepared for 800 people, but weather and lack of enthusiasm may have been a factor for the low numbers as well, Seidel said.

“[The National Guard] come with the capabilities to do 1,000 to 1,200 tests,” Seidel said, “and then it just depends how many people show up.” 

Once tested, people should act as if they are positive. “They should quarantine,” Seidel said, “They should not test and then go out to dinner at a restaurant.” This could be part of the reason that many people did not show up, if they knew they had to isolate it may have steered them away from getting tested, Seidel said. 

Not everyone who came to testing was in contact with someone coronavirus-positive or were  symptomatic themselves. Kent State students, Sharnae Wright and Bradley Bowers, came as a precaution. They heard about the testing from an email and wanted to be safe. 

Vanessa Cornell, a Kent State student in her last semester of graduate school, went to get tested because of possible exposure. “I want reassurance because I work in the health field,” Cornell said. She works with kids who have intellectual developmental disabilities and because of this, they are at higher risk. “I want to protect them. I am also in clinicals and I don’t want to expose anybody there either unknowingly.” 

The completed tests are FedExed to Mako Medical in North Carolina at the end of each testing day. It will take 2 to 3 days for results once they get to the laboratory, said Michael Anguilano III, Kent City Health Public Information Officer.

The Kent City Health website will be updated with positive cases either Tuesday or Wednesday based on when they get all the results. If someone tests positive, they will receive a phone call on how long to isolate and to give a list of all the people they have come in contact with, Seidel said.  

There are currently no events like this planned for the rest of the semester, but Seidel hopes to have more. 

“It’s still important to follow all the safety measures,” Seidel said, “still important to wear a mask, social distance, not have large gatherings, do great hand hygiene and make your plan to take vaccine as soon as it’s offered to whatever tier you fit into.”

Alexandra Golden is a COVID-19 reporter. Contact her at [email protected]