COVID-19 testing reaches parts of St. Bernard Parish for the first time –

“It’s been a steady flow since 7 a.m. and we have already tested at least 50 individuals,” said Williams.

NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of people showed up at Corinne Missionary Baptist Church in the eastern St. Bernard town of Violet Saturday for free walk up and drive through testing for COVID-19, a first of its kind for the area, according to Dr. Shondra Williams with InclusivCare, the company contracted to do the testing. 

“It’s been a steady flow since 7 a.m. and we have already tested at least 50 individuals,” said Williams.  

While there has been testing across Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, this area has not seen a free testing event like this until now, according to Williams.

“From what I understand, this is probably the first testing in the area and it’s of particular interest as the community is beginning to reopen,” said Williams. “Businesses are moving about and we certainly want to make sure that people have access to testing.”

Poorer areas tend to have a harder time fighting the virus. According to census data, the per capita individual income in Violet was just over $13,000 a year and about 21 percent of the population is below the poverty line. Roughly 40 percent of the town is black — another group hard hit by COVID-19. 

“Unfortunately, the manifestation of COVID-19 in the African-American community is the result of those predisposed disparities,” said Louisiana state senator Joseph Bouie. You know, it includes healthcare, access to a living wage and access to a quality education.”

It’s a combination of those factors that put this particular population at risk, according to Bouie. He also expects a greater emphasis on healthcare in the future, both at a federal and local level to help people in communities like Violet.  

“I definitely see it as a teaching moment, if you will, for the nation,” said Bouie. “It forces us as a community to address the economics, the health issues, the education — all of those challenges we are now being faced with because of this virus.”

President of St. Bernard parish’s NAACP Chapter, Kevin Gabriel, helped organize the event. 

“It’s time for people to come out and get tested. We are looking out for the community. This a terrible thing that came up in this nation and it’s time for all us to come together as one,” said Gabriel. 

The event was sponsored in part by Corinne Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor John Bailey says a lot of residents have not been tested and that there is a great need in his community. 

“Well you know you got some people walking around not knowing they have the virus. I am just grateful and I thank the Lord we were able to have this testing site in our parish,” said Bailey.

The Crescent River Port Pilots were also at the event to offer free masks. It wasn’t their first event.

We’ve done this about six times and we continue to want to do it to protect people,” said president of the group, Michael Bopp.

More events are being planned in St. Bernard for the future.  

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