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Free COVID testing to be offered at Jasper church

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A drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic will be held in Jasper on four separate dates.

The First Baptist Church of Frisco on Corona Avenue, in collaboration with Beechtree Diagnostics, will welcome members of the community to get tested for COVID-19 at the church on Wednesday, Jan. 19; Saturday, Jan. 22; Wednesday, Jan. 26; and Saturday, Jan. 29. Beechtree Diagnostics will be set up at the church on each of those dates from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to test as many people who want to get tested.

The COVID-19 testing is free and will occur in a drive-thru fashion. A food truck will be at the location each Saturday to offer a free hotdog, drink and chips to everyone who gets tested.

Jasper Mayor David O'Mary facilitated the COVID-19 testing opportunity and met with representatives of Beechtree Diagnostics on Thursday, along with Jasper City Council Member Willie Moore (District 5), to discuss organizing the testing clinics.

"I thought this might be a very good thing to do for District 5, District 4, based on U.S. government data that designates it a low- to moderate-income area," O'Mary said. "There's an urgent need for this service right now. COVID cases are going up across the state of Alabama, and our community reports indicate that local testing is turning up a positive rate of about 40 percent." 

He continued, "We're delighted it's happening. We think it's good to have this happen in our community."

Moore said walk-ins will be welcome at the church's testing clinics for people who prefer to walk and/or do not have transportation.

"I think that it's good for the community and the district as a whole. It's more convenient for people, and I just appreciate my church family agreeing to do this," Moore said. "I hope people will come out and participate and get tested so that we will have a safer environment for everybody."

Moore also wished to thank all other sponsors who participated in making the testing opportunities possible.

Beechtree Diagnostics has been conducting COVID-19 testing throughout Jasper.

The business has a location at 2545 Highway 78 E. in the Winn-Dixie shopping plaza, where the company has been providing free COVID-19 testing and also offers toxicology testing as part of its business model.

While the company did not have rapid COVID-19 tests in stock on Thursday, the Daily Mountain Eagle is told rapid testing will be available again soon. A standard test that results in 24-48 hours is still being offered, however.

Testing occurs at the company's location in the Winn-Dixie shopping plaza from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

"Some people are showing up just as a maintenance thing because they just want to know whether they have it or not," Ricky Freeman, district manager of Beechtree, said. "A lot of people are asymptomatic and could actually be a carrier of the virus and not even know they're sick."

Freeman explained how the testing is free — insurance companies are billed for those insured and the CARES Act pays for people who are uninsured to get tested.

On average, over 100 people are getting tested daily at the company's location by Winn-Dixie. 

Beechtree Diagnostics is also offering testing at the Sunshine Clinic (3600 Highway 78 E.) beside Med-Center Texaco in Jasper from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A drive-thru testing clinic, also sponsored by Beechtree, will be held at the Oakman Supermarket (10147 Main St. in Oakman) on four different days — Tuesday, Jan. 18; Friday, Jan. 21; Tuesday, Jan. 25; and Friday, Jan. 28 — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Other drive-thru clinics may be announced by Beechtree Diagnostics.

Freeman said that COVID-19 testing is desperately needed in Walker County, considering some people simply do not know where to get tested or do not have transportation to go get tested.

"The positivity rate in Walker County is way too high. ... Forty percent of the people we're testing are positive," Freeman said. "We're seeing between 80 and 100 a week, new positives, just in our testing."

For more information about COVID-19 testing with Beechtree Diagnostics, call 205-265-3135.

Community transmission of COVID-19 is high in every Alabama county, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard hub. There is a 41.1 percent positivity rate in the state and was a nearly 30 percent positivity rate in Walker County, as of Friday.

A total of 234 people in Walker County have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week.

COVID-19 vaccinations continue being administered at some pharmacies, at Walmart and Winn-Dixie, at some doctor's offices, at the Walker County Health Department, and other businesses throughout Walker County.

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