The county-run free COVID-19 testing site will be located at the old city and county employee health clinic instead of the Kokomo Senior Center, health officials announced Monday.
The health department is planning for an early October opening of its COVID-19 testing site now to be located at 620 N. Bell St. An exact starting date is not yet known said Kristina Sommers, public health emergency coordinator for the health department. The health department is still awaiting approval from the county council later this month regarding hiring for the testing site, she said.
Originally, the health department was going to operate the testing site at the Senior Center, but the change was suggested by the city, which wants to keep the possibility of having future events and activities at the Senior Center if it can be done safely.
The building at 620 N. Bell St. used to house the city and county’s employee health clinic, but the employee clinic is now located at 317 S. Berkley Road after the city and county struck a five-year deal with Ascension St. Vincent to expand and upgrade its clinic offerings.
“We went to look at the site, and it’s a full, ready-to-operate clinic,” Sommers said of the 620 N. Bell St. building. “We have actual clinic rooms to use, with hand-washing stations, so it will look more professional. ... There’s a lot of positives with the change.”
The COVID-19 testing will be free and open to anyone over the age of 2, whether or not they have symptoms or not. No insurance is required and one doesn’t have to live in the county to be tested.
The health department received a $200,000 grant from the State of Indiana to operate the new testing site, nearly all of which will go toward paying the salaries of two full-time and six part-time employees for the county’s testing site through June 2021. The state will be paying for the PPE and all the necessary testing equipment, including swabs.
Exact hours of the site have yet to be publicly released, but James Vest, health department administrator, said late last month hours will be “roughly” 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, with more limited hours on Saturday.
Once the new testing site opens, Howard County will have two free COVID-19 brick-n-mortar testing centers – at least for the time being.
The State of Indiana has extended its contract with OptumServe through October, meaning the testing site at Senior Center, 721 W. Superior St., will be available to use through at least October.
In addition to the Bell Street site, the health department will be operating a mobile site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Friday and will alternate locations each week. Locations include the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library South Branch, Kokomo-Howard County Public-Library Russiaville, Community Howard Physician Clinic in Greentown, the UAW Local 685 union hall on East Hoffer Street and at Ivy Tech Kokomo for any fifth Fridays of the month.
Additionally, the health department has partnered with American Health Network, 2330 S. Dixon Road, to offer 20 tests a day.