QCity Metro file photo

After testing hundreds of Black and Latino residents for Covid-19, Atrium Health will increase the number of mobile testing sites focused on those ethnic groups.

Starting this week, Atrium will operate five mobile sites, up from two in previous weeks. The number of mobile sites will increase to 10 the following week.

The decision to test more Black and Latino residents for Covid-19 comes as Atrium officials said the mobile units have detected a “slightly higher” rate of the disease in Mecklenburg County’s lower-income communities where the units have set up.

Kinneil Coltman, chief community and external affairs officer at Atrium, said the results indicate that Atrium is “on the right path and in the right places to make sure that the folks that need access to the tests are getting them.”

As of Wednesday, county officials reported 1,331 confirmed cases of COVID-19. African Americans accounted for 46.4% of that total, while Latino residents accounted for 15.8%. By Friday, the number of confirmed cases had climbed to 1,400, with 37 related deaths.

Coltman said about 10% of the people tested at Atrium’s non-mobile sites test positive for Covid-19. Black and Latino residents, she said, are underrepresented at those sites.

“It’s tough to make conclusions about the true prevalence of the virus,” Coltman said, “because anytime you have underrepresentation in testing, that’s a problem.”

Asked how long Atrium would commit to increased testing in Black and Latino communities, Coltman said talk of pulling back was premature.

“Probably it will have to do with when we start to see Covid cases go down significantly in our community,” she said. “I don’t know that we will be able to pull back until we feel that every single corner of this community that we serve, and particularly the parts of our communities that are most at risk of Covid… is safe from harm.”

Coltman said the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on communities of color should be a wakeup call.

“…As a nation, we have got to be much more solution driven around the root causes of health inequities in our communities, because this stuff didn’t start yesterday. It’s structural, and it’s historical,” she said.

Here are the locations and times for Atrium’s mobile testing sites this week:

  • Monday: First Baptist Church-West parking lot (1801 Oaklawn Avenue), 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday: Atrium Health NorthPark parking lot (251 Eastway Drive), 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church – Family Life Center parking lot (1235 Badger Court), 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Thursday: Weeping Willow AME Zion Church parking lot (2220 Milton Road), 1 p.m.  – 7 p.m.
  • Friday: Stratford Richardson YMCA parking lot (1946 West Blvd.), 1 p.m. –  7 p.m.

For weekly schedule updates, visit www.AtriumHealth.org/GetScreened.

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.

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