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Sgt. Osborne of National Guard Task Force CRE, right, walks Valley Health employees through the proper technique for the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE) on March 31 at a Valley Health COVID-19 test center outside of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

HUNTINGTON — Free COVID-19 testing for all Cabell County residents this weekend will be available by drive-through and walk-up.

To increase the COVID-19 testing opportunities for minorities and other vulnerable populations, the Governor’s Office, the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, state National Guard, Cabell-Huntington Health Department and community partners are providing the free, optional testing for residents in medically under-served population areas around the state Friday and Saturday, May 22-23.

The testing location for Cabell County will be at 16th Street Baptist Church, 1647 9th Ave., Huntington, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

This will be drive-through testing. Those attending should enter on 9th Avenue from 20th Street. Walk-up testing is available and welcome.

This testing is available to all individuals in Cabell County, including asymptomatic individuals. Proof of insurance is not required. Identification, such as a driver’s license or proof of address, will be required to be tested. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Testing will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. Health officials said they plan to test hundreds of people over the two days.

Testing will also be conducted in Kanawha, Marion and Monongalia counties this weekend. In Kanawha County, testing will be at the Schoenbaum Family Enrichment Center, 1701 5th Ave., Charleston.

Additional testing for Kanawha, Fayette and Mineral counties is scheduled for May 29-30, with locations to be determined and announced next week.

The testing is part of a plan developed by a task force led by the Office of Minority Affairs. The task force was convened in response to COVID-19 disproportionately impacting the black, Latino and Native American populations in the state and the nation.

Though only making up 3.6% of the population, 7.3% of all cases in the state are black West Virginians and 26% of those patients have been hospitalized, compared to just 14.3% of white COVID-19 patients. In Cabell County, 9.09% of all cases are black or other than white, despite making up only about 5% of the population.

During his daily press briefing Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice encouraged everyone to take advantage of the testing.

“The more information we have, the better,” he said. “So come on out and be tested. It doesn’t cost you a dime and it’s not painful and it’s really quick.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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