Free COVID-19 Testing Site Opens at ASU

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 By Hazel Scott

Alabama State University (ASU) now has a temporary COVID-19 testing site. On Wednesday, April 6, a walk-up/drive-through site where residents of the William B. Paterson Court Housing Community can be tested for COVID-19 opened at ASU.

The testing site is located in the parking lot across from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, at the corner of South Jackson and North University Streets.

The site is a partnership between ASU, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Montgomery Housing Authority (MHA).

President Quinton T. Ross Jr. spoke to the media prior to the opening, along with Damon Duncan, executive director of MHA, Kaye Melnick, chief nursing officer, ADPH and Dr. Joyce Loyd-Davis, nurse practitioner with the ASU Health Center.

 “We are so excited about providing a free walk-up/drive-through COVID-19 clinic right in the mist of the community where ASU is located. Public health officials say that more widespread testing is key to getting the nation back to ‘normal,’ and this is an opportunity for ASU to contribute to the cause. I’m thrilled to see this partnership come to life,” Ross said.

Ross noted that some communities, especially African-American neighborhoods, face misinformation and barriers in getting access to the test.

“There are some who think they have to pay for the test, or that the tests are not available to individuals who don’t have transportation. Our team want to break down any barriers to ensure testing is taking place; the more testing that takes place lets us know where we are and how to protect ourselves to flatten the curve of the pandemic,” Ross said.

Ross hopes this site will support testing for residents in other areas as the necessary resources are made available to ASU. 

Melnick says the launch of the testing site at ASU is the first for her department.

“This is the first pilot site that we have with a major university. It is imperative to have a relationship with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) because African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to make sure we reach out and have the partnerships with universities, such as Alabama State, that we know can build trust and impact the communities around them.” Melnick said.

Loyd-Davis said when Dr. Ross presented the idea to fill this particular need for this underserved area, she was excited to help make this initiative happen.

“It is very important to test within the African-American community or in areas of social economic disparity. The clinic is a wonderful vehicle for ASU to give back and help those in our community. We want everyone to have access and opportunity to testing,” Loyd-Davis said.

The more than 300 Patterson Court Community residents are encouraged to schedule appointments; however, walk-ins will not be turned away.

“Anybody from the public can come in and walk ups from the neighborhood are welcome. We prefer appointments, but we sure are not going to turn anyone away,” Melnick said.

Testing hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays for as long as testing supplies last. The ASU location will be operated as a controlled environment with personnel following strict health and safety protocols. 

Residents may call the Housing Authority Hotline at 334-206-7111 or 334-799-4379 to inquire about their eligibility to participate in the free COVID-19 tests.

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ASU President Quinton T. Ross Jr. speaks during the opening of ASU's COVID-19 testing site.