AKRON, Ohio — Free COVID-19 testing will take place on June 27 and 28 at The House of The Lord Church at 1650 Diagonal Road in Akron.
The testing, a partnership between the church, Summa Health and Summit County Public Health, will run between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. both days.
No appointment is necessary. Those with insurance cards should bring them, but insurance coverage is not required for testing.
There will be walk-up or drive-up testing. The test is not an antibody test. It will determine if a person currently has the virus. Up to 800 people could potentially be swabbed.
Associate Pastor Herman Matherson said the new site is critical because the African American community has faced barriers to testing during the pandemic.
"Right here in the inner city of Akron, there really hasn't been too much aggression in terms of getting the word out, in terms of actually providing the testing for the African American community," Matherson said.
Associate Pastor Daren Brake said it was extremely important to have the event at no cost without a doctor's note.
"I was reading this morning a study that one in three African Americans knows someone that either has died or has the virus, which is significantly a higher percentage than any other demographic," Brake said.
Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said the new testing is opening up as the county is seeing an "uptick" in coronavirus cases.
In recent weeks, the county was reporting about eight to twelve new cases a day, but it jumped to 28 on Thursday. 17 more were reported on Friday.
"We were doing really, really good, but now that it's increasing again, it does cause concern," Skoda said.
As of Friday afternoon, Summit County has reported 1,846 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases and 203 deaths.
Skoda fears the recent increase could be the result of people becoming too lax by getting together in larger groups in the summer.
"We have seen, as the rest of the state, a younger group of individuals getting the disease and recovering quickly," Skoda said.
However, Skoda cautioned that younger people with COVID-19 are putting older people and those with other health problems at risk.
"If you're going to go hang out with people, you need to keep your distance. You need to stay six feet [apart]. You need to wear masks," she said.
The pastors also stressed the pandemic is far from over and they're encouraging people to come to the church to be tested over the weekend.
"This is real and it's not going away," Matherson said. "It's not a respect of a person. It's not a respect of politics. All you need is lungs."