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Mobile Testing Continues At Mont Pleasant Middle School In Schenectady

Mont Pleasant Middle School COVID-19 Testing Site
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Mont Pleasant Middle School COVID-19 Testing Site

Mobile COVID-19 testing directed to underserved neighborhoods is under way in Schenectady.

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Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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It's been a busy Tuesday at Mont Pleasant Middle School where several Schenectady-based health care organizations have joined forces to bring coronavirus testing to city neighborhoods. Rory Schmit is the Dental Director at Hometown Health Center:

"This is very crucial to the county of Schenectady. We have very limited testing so by having acces through Ellis and Hometown and public health, it's really gonna give access to all the residents of Schenectady County to get a better idea of what's going on. Most of the testing has been in Albany County, very limited in Schenectady and Rensselaer, so our numbers aren't accurate as of right now."

Schmit says there is an urgent need to expand the number of symptomatic people who are tested in order to minimize the risk of spread, and also help build a database of individuals who, after full recovery, may be candidates to donate plasma to help combat the virus in others.
 

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Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Leslyn Williamson

Leslyn Williamson, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer with Ellis Medicine, says the majority of people in Schenectady affected by COVID19 are African-American and Latino.

"And that's been shown also from the statistics in New York City. So it's imperative for us to do this, knowing that lots of community members are affected with lots of premorbidity, hypertension, diabetes, those are the two that, you know, seem to come up each and every time that someone is actually hospitalized."

Ellis, with support from Schenectady County Public Health Services and MVP Health Care, began the new set of testing sites on Monday. Williamson adds the primary goal is to reach symptomatic people who have limited access to transportation, and may not have a primary care physician. Mont Pleasant is one of a handful of sites available for both walk-up and drive-up testing.

Of 146 individuals tested Monday, Williamson says more than 70% were people of color.

"We've seen it across the country, Louisiana, New York City, again look at all the sidebars that currently have played out. For us in the Capital Region, we would be foolish not to take heed of the warning that happened outside of our region."

Officials say expanded testing is now possible due to an increase in testing supplies, even though high demand continues to present serious challenges. The partners have requested additional kits and supplies from the New York State Department of Health.

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Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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