COVID-19 testing

From left, DeSoto County Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Olson, Landers Center General Manager Todd Mastry, and County EMS Director Mark Davis assisted as coronavirus testing was offered by the Mississippi State Department of Health and the University of Mississippi Medical Center on Wednesday, May 6.  

The Landers Center in Southaven was the site Wednesday, May 6 for the public to receive a test to determine if they were either infected or not infected by the coronavirus, or possibly carrying it in their bodies.

People who arrived between 12 noon and 4 p.m. to have their nasal cavity swabbed had previously signed up online.

The test was administered by medical professionals, both civilians and members of the military who were on hand, and the process took no more than five minutes. All who had made an appointment and who received a test remained in their vehicles but had heir noses swabbed, and then told they were notified that they would be informed within 72 hours of the results.

“The Mississippi Department of Health, in coordination with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), and the Mississippi National Guard have come together in a statewide effort in order to test people who can't either afford to get tested or need somewhere to go,” said County EMS Director Mark Davis. “They just drive-up and then are tested right here on site. The tests are handled by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) and then results are made available directly to those tested, between three to five days. The last count of those who had responded to the offer were some 55 citizens who will be here for testing.”

Asked if the program was limited to only those in DeSoto County, Davis replied, “No, at this time anybody who has made an appointment will receive the test. But a person has to have an appointment. Should they not, they are given an 800-number to call, go to the C Spire app, or go to UMMC's website for the link. They then can make an appointment. We've had people drive off-site, make the call, receive an appointment, and then turn around and drive right back in for their test.”

The public was first notified of the testing via social media, two days prior to the event. “The biggest push has come from those who contacted us through social media,” according to Davis. Asked if there was an age restriction to those who can receive the test, Davis answered, “No, there is none. The first time we tested a few months ago, people had to be showing health signs – coughing, high fever, and so forth – in order to be tested. Now the number of symptoms present is limited to basically running a fever, coughing and it's not as strict this time. Also, if the person has been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you're automatically qualified to be tested.”

Recipients of the test are not charged, as the test is free.

“For us, the Mississippi State Department of Health is paying for the testing. That cost is being shouldered by them so those tested have nothing to pay,” Davis said.

That a person may feel fine, doesn't necessarily mean they don't have or are not carrying the virus.

“You can walk around for up to 14 days without showing any signs of being either infected or that you're a carrier of the virus,” Davis explained. “During that time, you may be contagious but those around you are unaware because you're not showing signs or symptoms that would indicate that you may have the virus.”

Davis used a sports analogy to explain that the pandemic is going to be with us for a while.

We've been saying that this is a marathon and not a sprint and at this point, we know that it's not over; that it's going to be a long-term event,” Davis said. “All of the medical specialists, under guidance from the CDC, have agreed that over the summer months we should see the numbers (of victims) drop. But, in the fall we're expecting to see a rebound in the numbers, along with the usual numbers for flu.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, DeSoto County Emergency Management Agency, and members of the Mississippi National Guard from Tupelo and Flowood participated in conducting the testing.