Editor’s note: This story has been updated to make it clear that testing will continue to be available at MedStat and Parkview. InkFreeNews regrets any inconvenience this may have caused.
By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A permanent COVID-19 testing center will soon be established at the Bowen Health Clinic in Warsaw.
Kurt Carlson, Bowen Center president and CEO, was at the City of Warsaw’s weekly COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 30, to provide more information on the center.
Kosciusko County Health Department Administrator Bob Weaver reached out to Carlson and asked if he would consider putting together a testing site at the Bowen Health Clinic. Carlson agreed to the proposal and a work plan was submitted to Weaver, who then submitted it to the state. As of Tuesday, Sept. 29, the plan was approved and is now entering its second planning phase.
“We’ve already started to recruit staff to do the testing at the site,” said Carlson. “We have to wait until we get the training material from the state. There’s still a number of things we have to get until we can actually start doing the testing.”
Carlson said the testing center’s opening is dependent on how quickly the state gets the necessary materials to Bowen Center.
“If they have it for me next week, we’ll be ready to go next week,” said Carlson.
The drive-thru testing center, which will be set up until June 2021, will be in the Bowen Health Clinic’s parking lot, located at the corner of Dubois and Provident Drive in Warsaw. The center will be open from Tuesdays through Saturdays, with bilingual staff working at the site.
Testing will continue at MedStat and Parkview Hospital. But Local CARES Act funding for those sites will be phased out as the testing at Bowen is established.
Gamal Hernandez will be the testing site’s director. Hernandez is on Mayor Joe Thallemer’s task force and has experience with working at a testing site at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Warsaw.
Thallemer also announced at the conference that the City of Warsaw, in partnership with Winona Lake, will tentatively be having trick-or-treating from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31.
“We will certainly be looking at and following our COVID-19 numbers,” said Thallemer. “We are also going to come out with some guidelines and recommendations as we get closer to Halloween with safe practices.”
More information on the Bowen Center’s testing site, as well as Warsaw’s trick-or-treat guidelines, will be announced at a future press conference.
Kosciusko County Health Officer Dr. Bill Remington and Kosciusko County Health Department Communicable Disease RN Teresa Reed also gave updates on COVID-19 cases within the county.
Remington said the county’s case count remains fairly steady but noted a community event that occurred in the last week which led to a spread of COVID-19 cases. The event was not specified by name, organizer or size.
“This still happens,” said Remington. “It’s still around. It’s a contagious virus. Be wary of that, particularly the indoor congregate settings.”
As of last week’s data, Remington said Kosciusko County’s positivity rate has also gone down.
“It was important for us to have correct data represented there, so that the community was not too anxious about where we were from the positivity rate,” said Remington. “We’re looking okay, but it’s not going away.”
Reed focused on school-related COVID-19 information. The data includes positive cases among those who are ages 5 to 18; college students; and adults who are employed by any public school within Kosciusko County. As of Wednesday, Sept. 30, there have been 46 COVID-19 positive cases that fit that criteria. Due to these cases, there were 298 individuals quarantined by the health department.
With the school-related data, 14 cases were asymptomatic and 24 were reported as very mild cases, with symptoms lasting less than four days.