Life has changed a lot since the pandemic started for 67-year-old Anthony Willis, but last week he took what he considered to his first step toward normalcy – and maybe even a first date.
Last Wednesday, the new COVID-19 testing facility opened in the Kokomo Senior Center. That day proved busy, with more than 100 individuals venturing to Foster Park to receive the nasal swab test. Willis was among them, and since the pandemic started he’s largely avoided venturing out into public since he’s considered at risk due to his age and other factors. Willis was motivated to get tested to not only gain some peace of mind but also to socialize should his test results come back negative for the virus.
“I actually started talking to a nice young lady online again. We’re antsy to kind of meet and hang out in the park. So, I wanted to get tested. She got tested yesterday. Hopefully we can precipitate a sooner meeting and see where things go from there,” said Willis.
According to Willis, the testing process was relatively simple. He made an appointment, and then arrived at the Kokomo Senior Center at 721 W. Superior St. at the allotted time. From there, it was about a 10-minute process to get in, receive the nasal swab, and get out. He said he’d be notified in two to three days of his results. Those receiving negative results will receive an email or text, and positive testers will be notified via a phone call.
The testing center opened as part of a statewide initiative by the Indiana State Department of Health to test Hoosiers. In late April, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the large-scale COVID-19 testing initiative would be launched in 50 locations around the state. Kokomo was among the areas selected as a site for the testing facilities. In the first 30 days of the initiative, 100,000 Hoosiers were expected to be tested free of charge.
During the Kokomo site’s first day of operation, 113 individuals were tested, according to Howard County Health Department Public Health Emergency Coordinator Kristina Sommers. According to Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman, more than 100 were tested each day the facility was open.
Sommers encouraged those who meet the criteria for the test be tested. The requirements include experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and being included in an at-risk group. At-risk individuals are those who are over the age of 65, have diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or another underlying condition, and members of a minority population that’s at greater risk. Additionally, those who have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 positive patient or work in close contact with at-risk populations also may be tested.
“If they believe that they have been exposed and they can’t get the test for their doctor or hospital, this allows easy access to a test for them, especially if they are a caretaker or work with the at-risk population for this illness,” said Sommers.
In the coming days, Sommers said she expected the increased testing likely would result in a corresponding increase of positive test results for Howard County.
To make an appointment for a COVID-19 test, call 888-634-1116 or visit https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/2524.htm. Sommers said not to call the Kokomo Senior Center directly.
Appointments can be made quickly, even from the parking lot via phone, she said.