CLARKSTON, Ga.–A national organization is offering free coronavirus tests to the public on Georgia State University’s Clarkston Campus Oct. 8-10.
Volunteer health professionals from the Community Organization Relief Effort (CORE), an organization founded by actor Sean Penn, began administering drive-in or walk-up tests Thursday in the Clarkston Campus parking lot 5, off Memorial College Drive. The tests will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
CORE is providing interpreters in more than 20 languages for non-English speakers at the testing. In partnership with the International Rescue Committee, it also is providing confidential contact tracing and wraparound services for individuals who test positive, said Mary Helen O’Connor, director of Georgia State’s Center for Community Engagement, which is on the Clarkston Campus and is a host for the event.
The services – including rent and utility relief, food distributions and employment counseling – are important, O’Connor said.
“Right now, 70 percent of positive cases in Clarkston cannot meet isolation requirements for quarantine because the individuals must work,” O’Connor said. “The services are to support these individuals so they can stay home in quarantine and prevent the spread of the virus.”
Of those who have been tested in Clarkston, about 8 percent have been positive for coronavirus, she said. The city of 12,700 residents has a high population of refugees from war-torn countries and is often referred to as the “most diverse square mile in America.”
Georgia State’s Clarkston Campus is just south of the city limits, and faculty, staff and students are welcome to be tested at the event.
CORE is providing the free testing days thanks to the coordinated efforts of O’Connor and Michael Eriksen, interim vice president for research and economic development and founding dean of the School of Public Health at Georgia State.
O’Connor serves on the Clarkston Community COVID-19 Task Force, a volunteer group of community leaders, nonprofit groups and health professionals addressing the needs of the community during the pandemic. The group has distributed more than 15,000 masks, 5,000 personal protection equipment items and health educational kits to the community over the past two months.
The task force, organized by the Ethne Health community clinic in Clarkston, includes representatives from the Center for Community Engagement, the DeKalb County Board of Health, Friends of Refugees, Compassionate Atlanta and community residents.
“Providing coronavirus testing in Clarkston is a perfect example of nonprofits, the community and the academic world working together, which is increasingly necessary as we continue to navigate this pandemic,” Eriksen said. “Georgia State University is proud to be a partner.”
For information, contact O’Connor at [email protected].
Photos by Bill Roa
Top: Free coronavirus testing is offered by CORE at Georgia State University’s Clarkston Campus. Volunteer Christy Nyeing, a student at Georgia State’s Perimeter College, sets up signs for the event.
Above, left: Safari Byringird, a volunteer with CORE, assists with drive-up testing.
Above, right: Volunteer Glodi Mutamba registers Fardowga Mohamud, a freshman at Georgia State’s Perimeter College, prior to testing.