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Free COVID testing here to stay

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Article by: The Dominion Post

The WVU Rec Center opened its doors Wednesday — and will each Wednesday indefinitely — to  free community COVID-19 testing.

Coordinated by Monongalia County Health Department and in partnership with West Virginia University, these testing days will be  9 a.m.-4 p.m. 

This is  an effort  to get a better idea of the amount of COVID-19 in Monongalia County, said Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer.

“We’re going to continue to offer free, weekly community COVID-19 testing until we get a better grasp of the COVID-19 situation,” Smith said previously. “And because up to 40% of individuals with COVID-19 do not display symptoms, this will help us find some of those people and give them the opportunity to quarantine to avoid passing the virus on to others.”

The WVU Rec Center has been set up to accommodate WVU and community COVID-19 testing in a safe and socially distanced manner. Members of the community  enter the Rec Center from the larger parking, where parking is free. As they walk in, they will stay in the right lane  to go to the correct room where testing is taking place.

Everyone needs to wear a mask and provide identification.

Wednesdays were picked  as the weekly test day because it’s a day in which the WVU Rec Center can accommodate it.

On future testing days, there might be extended hours so  individuals who work until late afternoon would be able to stop by the WVU Rec Center on their way home in order to be tested, Smith said.

Unlike in the past, individuals are only being told to quarantine after a COVID-19 test if they have symptoms and/or have a known COVID-19 exposure. Those who don’t have symptoms and no known COVID exposure who are just being tested out of curiosity or concern do not need to quarantine, although they should still wear a mask and practice social distancing, as everyone should.

Wednesday’s was the seventh free day of community testing held by MCHD in the past four months. Individuals will undergo nasal swab tests that will be processed by Q-Labs.

“The reason free testing is so important is that we need to understand clearly how much COVID exists in Monongalia County,” Smith said. “People can be either symptomatic or asymptomatic and we want to break the chain of infection. Those who test positive can then self-isolate and help stop the spread.”

COVID-19 symptoms can include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, new loss of taste and/or smell and congestion or runny nose.

The West Virginia National Guard is helping with the testing.

For up-to-date information on health and wellness in Monongalia County, check out monchd.org and follow the health department on Facebook and Twitter @WVMCHD and on Instagram at #wvmchd. COVID-19 information can be found under the “Preparedness” tab.