MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — About 1,000 people were tested for COVID-19, free of charge, at a testing site in Muskegon Heights over the weekend.
The event was held in partnership with Mercy Health, the Muskegon County Health Department, the city of Muskegon Heights and several other community partners.
“We’ve had a great day so far,” said Director of Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Zaneta Adams.
The drive-thru and walk-up services were available Saturday and Sunday afternoon at the Muskegon Heights Farmers Market near the Muskegon Heights Police Department.
“The important thing is knowing (if) you are infected so we can get ahead of it and have you quarantine and not continue to spread the disease throughout the community,” said Muskegon Heights Mayor Walter Watt.
Community leaders say this service is especially important in an area like Muskegon Heights where minority and lower income communities have been disproportionately impacted by the disease. Muskegon County logged 590 positive COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths linked to the virus, as of Sunday, the state reported. African Americans accounted for about 42% of positive cases countywide.
Muskegon Heights accounts for about 20% of the presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in the county.
“There are many undeserved communities that there are some health disparities. There are some fears. There’s a lot of things within our African American communities. And so we want to make sure that people do not have to worry about a stigma of coming to get a test,” Adams said.
To erase stigma, there were zero requirements to get tested. Patients did not have to present an ID and did not have to have symptoms prior to testing. The test was also free of charge.
Community leaders say working together will be vital moving forward.
“This is a representative of what a little city could do on a big scale,” Muskegon Heights City Manager Troy Bell said. “We will not be able to move this community forward one at a time. We have to do it together.”
County and city leaders say they’re hoping to host more free testing sites. They say it’ll be important to know everyone’s status as cities move forward with reopening.