WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — It was an unusual sight in the parking lot of the Mount Olive African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Waterbury on Wednesday.
Men and women were dressed in full medical-grade PPE, greeting drivers as they pulled in. The church decided to team up with the Stay Well Health Center to provide free COVID-19 testing.
It comes as Waterbury numbers are back on the rise.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a spike in COVID, which we anticipated with the opening of school and everybody returning,” said Tess Lombard, Chief Medical Officer at Stay Well.
According to the mayor’s office, as of Sept. 8, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Waterbury stood at 2,359.
A week later, on Sept. 15, the number of cases went up to 2,407 — that’s 48 more. The number of deaths associated with COVID stayed the same at 193.
Just before 6 p.m., the mayor’s office sent out a new daily coronavirus update. The new numbers just out for Wednesday, Sept. 16th, show the Brass City now with 2,416 COVID cases. That’s nine more cases since Tuesday.
“The continued, ongoing testing of our community is extremely important,” said Rev. Kelsey Hopson, senior pastor at the church. “Particularly for Black, Brown, and individuals who are high risk 65 and over. Because we are located right in the community of those who are disproportionately impacted, we felt that it is necessary that we do our part.”
Stay Well Health Center officials said at this point in the pandemic it is crucial for asymptomatic people to come forward and participate in these free tests.
“We’ve been finding a lot of asymptomatic people have been positive,” Lombard said. “And that’s the only way to prevent the spread is that if you know that you’re positive and continue to quarantine.”
A man named Lestor, who News 8 met up the street, applauds the effort. Lestor said he contracted the coronavirus in June and was in a coma at one point.
“This thing is bad,” he said. “My body was so weak I had to learn how to walk again.”
Lestor said he’s been telling his friends to take the virus seriously.
“I’ve been telling them to use their mask, be careful what you touch,” he said. “Get the test. It’s good to find out where you’re at.”