COVID-19 drive-through test site in Ozark

A HEALTH WORKER FROM COX HEALTH administers a COVID-19 test to a patient in her car with assistance from the Christian County CERT volunteer at a drive-through test site in Ozark on Sept. 10, 2020.

Christian County has the means and the funding to offer free COVID-19 tests to residents by appointment for about a month.

The program launched Sept. 9, through the Christian County Emergency Management Agency through a partnership with CoxHealth and with Mercy. More than 40 people passed through a drive-through testing site in Ozark on the first day.

Christian County Director of Emergency Management Phil Amtower obtained funds for the testing site through the federal CARES Act of 2020. It costs Christian County about $500 per day to run the site with staff, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers and medical workers from either CoxHealth or Mercy.

“I didn’t think that was too bad,” Amtower said.

Christian County received $10.4 million in CARES Act funs passed through from the Missouri Office of the Governor.

“”We just felt that we needed to test more, and we thought that the only way that we’re going to get this under control is to test people. There are people out there that are carrying (COVID-19), or have it, and haven’t been tested, so they don’t know they have it and they’re spreading it everywhere,” Amtower said.

Amtower said that the free test site’s operation will depend on the demand, but he expects it to last three days per week for at least a month.

To make an appointment for a COVID-19 test, call the Christian County Emergency Management Agency at (417) 581-5400.

The tests are polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are administered with a nasal swab. Testing will be available by appointment only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The testing site is off of 25th Street in Ozark. An exact address is given when a resident makes an appointment to get tested.

Test results are generally known within 24 to 48 hours. The test kits are taken by courier to a laboratory in Columbia for processing.

Top priority is given to persons who have symptoms of COVID-19. Secondary priority is given to persons who have been in close contact with a patient who tests positive for COVID-19.

The testing program also includes help from the Christian County Health Department, the Christian County Sheriff’s Office, the Christian County CARES Act Committee, PTC Labs, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Christian County Highway Department.

The Christian County Health Department is monitoring 407 active cases of the coronavirus. It received notifications of 115 new cases confirmed through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing by medical providers over the Labor Day weekend. So far in the month of September, there have been 211 COVID-19 cases reported to the Christian County Health Department.

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