By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – A new, free coronavirus drive-thru testing site hosted by Bowen Center will open up possibly as soon as Thursday, Oct. 15, in Warsaw – and will remain open until the end of June 2021.
Bowen Center CEO Kurt Carlson announced the opening Wednesday, Oct. 14, during the regular coronavirus press briefing at Warsaw City Hall.
The clinic will be open Tuesday through Saturday. Testing will be available for ages two and up. No insurance card will be necessary. Hours will be 10 or 11 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Carlson.
The testing site will be in the parking lot between Bowen’s new health clinic and the outpatient center on Dubois Drive near Kosciusko Community Hospital.
Carlson thanked numerous folks for helping quickly arrange plans, including Bob Weaver from the county health department, as well as officials with Ivy Tech and MedStat with training assistance, and the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition for its support.
They also expressed appreciation to the state for its role.
“It’s truly a community effort to get this clinic established,” Thallemer said.
The clinic is supported by the Indiana Department of Health and funded with CARES Act money from the federal government.
Testing will continue at MedStat, Parkview and Physicians Urgent Care, according to Mayor Joe Thallemer, who also attended the press briefing.
Officials are moving with a sense of urgency in opening the new testing site at the Bowen Center as health officials in Indiana – and specifically Kosciusko County – grapple with a recent spike in the number of positive cases.
County Health Officer Dr. William Remington welcomed the additional service.
“Regionally, we are seeing the heaviest presence of Covid yet, which is very disappointing,” Remington said.
Officials are seeing significant increases in cases in St. Joseph, Elkhart and Kosciusko counties, Remington said.
“We need the community’s help. We need people to wear a mask when indoors, we need people to rethink congregated indoor gatherings,” he said.
Remington said he believes fatigue is a contributing factor in the recent rise.
The increase is not coming from a single setting, institution or geographical area, but rather is the result of what Remington deemed a “broad community spread.”
Much of the growth in numbers is connected to a younger population ages 19 to 29, he said.
One bright spot in Wednesday’s update is that local schools are not serving as an incubator for the virus, officials said.
Teresa Reed, the communicable disease nurse with the county health department, said area schools are “doing relatively well.”
The health department reports 63 students or staff employed with public schools in the county have tested positive, and that 499 individuals have been quarantined since the school year began. The new statistics no longer include college students, Reed said.
Very few of the cases involving students, teachers or staff have reported serious symptoms.
Much of the spread is tied to outside events such as parties, weddings and funerals, she said.
“We’re hearing of events where people are going out even though they know they are positive. This is problematic,” Reed said. “The social events are seriously driving what we are seeing right now.”
But at the same time, Reed said many of those testing positive can’t identify where they came in contact with the virus.
Health officials stressed the need for people to take more precautions.
“I would ask people to look at the situation and make a choice. If you get COVID, you may not be seriously ill, but the numbers in our community need for people to take more precautions than what they need personally to help dampen this in our community,” Reed said.