Over 400 COVID-19 tests were administered Saturday, May 30 by the Arkansas Department of Health at UAPB.
In addition to offering testing in the 79 health units across the state five days a week. Testing events in Pine Bluff were held on Saturday, May 30.
Jefferson Comprehensive Care System Inc (JCCSI) offered free COVID-19 testing at the Pine Bluff Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Arkansas Department of Health partnered with the city of Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) to administer free COVID-19 tests from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Although we have done extensive outreach to minority communities since the beginning of this epidemic, this is the first time that we’ve had a COVID-19 testing event offered at one of Arkansas’s historically black colleges and universities,” said Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith. “This is a first for us.”
Cars caravanned UAPB campus and over 400 tests were given to Arkansans at Simmons Bank Field.
While many were Jefferson County residents, visitors from other counties sought the opportunity and traveled from neighboring counties to receive a free test.
To promote testing among city employees and the public, Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington was the first to get tested for COVID-19.
“We have had a great turn out,” said Washington. “We had the capacity to test 600 people.”
Recently, the Arkansas Department of Health increased testing throughout the state and eliminated the previous requirements for testing which required fever, shortness of breath, cough, over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions.
On Thursday, Smith stated that half of the known coronavirus cases in the state were asymptomatic.
The mildly-symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers (who are likely to remain undetected) could still disseminate the virus.
"Overall of our total 6,538 cases, half of them reported no symptoms at the time of testing," Smith said during Thursday’s press conference.
Smith said that officials were seeing more asymptomatic cases as increased testing continued in the state.
Last week Washington expressed the importance of going to get tested due the increased amount of asymptomatic cases and the unknowingly spread of the virus throughout the community.
There was no out-of-pocket cost for the test and the test was offered to anyone who wanted to be tested, regardless of whether they had symptoms. Insurance was not required.
Washington also encouraged all city employees and department heads to get tested.
According to a statement released by UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander, UAPB was pleased to host COVID-19 testing for their constituents and the community.
“As a major institution in Pine Bluff, UAPB's involvement is a natural outgrowth of our mission of service and outreach to the community,” said Alexander. “We are a land-grant HBCU with a long and distinguished history of providing access and opportunity to higher education. We gladly joined this great caring coalition of leaders to bring access and opportunity to coronavirus testing to our community.”
Though slightly uncomfortable, the test took less than 30 seconds. After gathering contact information, a soft swab was inserted deep into the nostril of the nose to get the necessary sample.
In a press release provided by UAPB, Danna Speight, Nursing Supervisor and Patient Care Manager for the Southeast Region, who has worked every testing clinic since they began conducting them across the state, said that people are often nervous about the swab, but actually do really well.
“Anytime you put something in your nose, it’s going to sometimes give you that sneeze or cough reflex, but that’s what we want,” said Speight.
Those who were tested will be notified within 72 hours if they are positive for COVID-19.
As of Sunday, May 31 there were 7,013 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,714 active in the state. Out of the active cases, 115 were hospitalized and 27 were on ventilators.
Jefferson County has endured 517 total positive cases with 35 active, 25 deaths, 457 recoveries and 2,698 negatives.
To schedule a COVID-19 test, Jefferson County residents can call the Jefferson County Health Unit at 870-535-2142.