Health department announces free COVID-19 testing at churches in minority communities

District 8 City Councilman Anthony Byrd recently got tested for COVID-19. He reports that his test came back negative.

The Hamilton County Health Department and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga have partnered to launch a community testing model using churches as host COVID-19 testing sites. 

Pastors throughout the city are working with this new initiative and are volunteering to have testing conducted on church properties in minority communities. 

“Chattanooga, please get tested, and continue to practice social distancing,” said District 8 City Councilman Anthony Byrd, who recently got tested for COVID-19.

Several churches in Councilman Byrd’s district are participating in the health department’s new COVID-19 testing initiative.

While the church testing sites are open to everyone in the community, health department officials noted that the focus of this particular project is to increase the accessibility of COVID-19 testing to vulnerable African-American residents.

“Health Department staff are working very hard to reach and protect vulnerable populations that are disproportionately affected by this pandemic,” said Health Department Administrator Becky Barnes. 

According to a report published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, severe cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, are disproportionately affecting African-American communities.

The study noted that pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and asthma were associated with worse outcomes of the coronavirus. It has been well documented in recent years that the above underlying conditions tend to be more prevalent in communities of color.”The health department wants to find every positive case that’s out there,” said Barnes. “We ask that residents continue to cooperate by staying home if sick, follow the health department’s guidance for quarantine and isolation, practice social distancing outside your household unit, wear masks where it’s difficult to social distance, and frequently wash hands or use hand sanitizer. These are the only measures we have as a community to contain this virus.”
The health department’s initiative to bring testing to area churches is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.

Free COVID-19 church testing sites for June include:

Saturday, June 6 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and  Sunday, June 7 (noon-3 p.m.)
Mt. Canaan Baptist Church
4801 Hwy. 58

Saturday, June 13 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Sunday, June 14 (noon-3 p.m.)
Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist
1734 E. 3rd St.

Saturday, June 20 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Sunday, June 21 (noon-3 p.m.)
Hawkinsville Baptist Church
7463 Pinewood Dr.

Saturday, June 27 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Sunday, June 28 (noon-3 p.m.)
Greater Tucker Baptist Church
1115 N. Moore Rd.

All sites are open to the public without an appointment. Call the COVID-19 Hotline at 423-209-8383 if you have questions.