By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – $300,000 is being made available for coronavirus testing for people in Kosciusko County after a definite surge in cases was recently documented.
Testing began at three MedStat sites in the county on Wednesday, June 3, and is available to those with symptoms, who are at risk by age or other health conditions, or those who believe they’ve been exposed.
Administrators of the test will ask recipients if they have insurance, but those without will be provided the service without charge and the cost will be provided from a $300,000 pool of money from the city of Warsaw and Kosciusko County, which are using Cares Act money already sent by the federal government.
The announcement was made at the weekly news conference Wednesday morning led by Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer. Testing began at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Thallemer said they have looked into getting a state testing site, but was told the case count does not merit it.
Thallemer said he and County Commissioner Cary Groninger felt that “doing something now rather than waiting for a state testing site was critical to try and bat this down.”
Groninger said they became aware of roadblocks to testing and wanted to remove any barriers.
“What we’re trying to do is really going to be a benefit for a lot of these people that need to have that testing done and don’t have any insurance.”
The testing was prompted after officials were notified by the county health department about several hotspots in mobile home parks in the county and that many testing positive were Hispanic.
The city and county then mobilized a group of firefighters and volunteers, many of whom are bilingual, and fanned out with the hopes of visiting every mobile home park and delivering brochures in English and Spanish.
Volunteers who visited the mobile home parks included representatives of Zimmer Biomet, Warsaw Community Church, OrthoWorx, Grace College and Our Lady of Guadelupe Church.
Officials applauded how quickly the community was able to respond in getting the word out and establishing a free testing program.
Dr. William Remington, the county health officer, said the efforts were greatly appreciated.
“We are a relatively small staff – typical of a county health department – and we simply can not do this without tremendous community coordination. We are really uniquely fortunate to have a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional (group) weighing in on this,” Remington said.
While it took two months before the first 100 cases were documented, the county saw 100 new cases last week and 70 in the past day.
“It’s really surging,” Remington said.
He said the spike is part of a regional trend while state and national statistics continue to show improvement in the effort to slow the spread.
Remington said the surge will likely continue for several weeks and urged people to continue taking precautions.
Thallemer said they will take a cautious approach as the next phase of reopening the state arrives June 14.