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East Cleveland secures thousands of Covid-19 tests for city's most vulnerable

Posted at 6:16 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 18:16:01-04

EAST CLEVELAND — Those living in poverty, people of color and the elderly - all subgroups that doctors say are at a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.
One community in Northeast Ohio with a large population of all three is ramping up testing.
Wednesday, for the first time since this pandemic started, the City of East Cleveland held a drive-thru Covid-19 test site.
Among those in line, Marquis Ward. To say he is under the weather does not even begin to describe just how bad he's feeling.
"Saturday, I just felt like the world was falling out. That’s what scared everybody."
The truck driver, who hasn't been behind the wheel since last week, found himself in the passenger's seat getting his nose swabbed.
"Better safe than sorry. I've been out in it since day one. I think someone might have got a little too close to me," said Ward.
Ward was one of dozens of East Cleveland residents taking advantage of the opportunity.
"I heard it through the grapevine that they were doing this up here," said Ward.
Mayor Brandon King said he worked with Cuyahoga County and a laboratory out of Florida to make this testing a reality.
"Today we have enough tests to do about 400, we were actually granted, I believe, it was 10,000 tests," said Ward.
King said it will help meet the growing interest in testing that they discovered after conducting a survey of residents.
"98% of the respondents said that they did want the testing," said King.
King points to East Cleveland's demographics for such demand.
"It's 98% African-American, we're over 65% seniors," said King.
Factor in a poverty rate of near 40% along with preexisting conditions like hypertension and diabetes and King said with each swab that are possibly saving lives.
"This community is one of the most vulnerable communities," said King.
Any resident like Marquis Ward who is experiencing symptoms, has been exposed to someone with Covid-19 or has underlying health issues is eligible for testing.
"That's great. Better safe than sorry," said King.
While Ward waits for his results, he's looking forward to better days are ahead.
"Getting better and getting back to work that's my main hope. I just hope this crap just goes away. As fast as it came, that's as fast as I want it to leave," said Ward.
Mayor King said there are more than 1,100 seniors living in apartments in East Cleveland who don’t have transportation.
The next step will be for the city to bring the testing to them.

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