By Kendra Hennis
The Douglas County Health Department held their drive-thru coronavirus testing on Wednesday, August 5 at the Tuscola United Methodist Church from 2 to 6 p.m.
To get tested, you entered the drive-thru of the church while wearing your mask. You then looped to your left where you were given information and prepared your driver’s license and insurance card. As you went around the drive-thru, two nurses worked with you to get your information prepared and then one provided you with the needed swab to complete your self-administered test. To do this, you put the cotton swab half way up each nostril for fifteen seconds and swirl around. To finish, you put your swab into a container and exited. I can personally say that my experience was pleasant and mostly painless, and I received my negative test results back two days later.
To date, the DCHD has tested 4,830 people, with 4,696 testing negative and 124 testing positive. There are 9 tests pending and Douglas County has had two deaths from COVID-19. The county has received fourteen positive tests from the drive-thru testing thus far.
The testing was made possible thanks to the Douglas County MCR, the Douglas County Health Department nursing staff, Millikin University nursing interns, Eastern Illinois University nursing interns, and DCHD staff and administrators. Douglas County Health Department Outreach Coordinator Summer Phillips said their goal for the testing was “for everyone to think it was as easy and pleasant as it could be.” Phillips “hoped the ease would bring a lot of asymptomatic individuals to take five minutes and come and get tested.”
Phillips encourages the use of the 3 w’s to protect yourself and the community. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, watch 6 foot distance at all times, and wear a face covering or a mask. Phillips noted that masks only work correctly when worn over your mouth and nose. Phillips would like to educate the community on the importance of mask wearing, especially with students preparing to go back to school. Saying, “you as parents hold the greatest influence. Anything you can do to support their transition before in-person learning begins, would be a selfless, worthy and beneficial investment. Students will benefit from the heartfelt, collaborative efforts of public health, school administration, staff, teachers, coaches, and bus drivers. Anything you as parents/grandparents/guardians can say or do (or for some, what you refrain from saying or sharing with them) will influence your child’s cooperation or opposition.”
Phillips then said, “when tasked with the responsibility to protect students, staff, and themselves, the precautions are not only warranted, they are necessary. School administration, staff, and coaches have been tasked with the responsibility of educating while simultaneously preventing the spread. Our students best chance of success lies with their examples outside of school. Modeling simple measures for them in public spaces is the best way to prepare them for those first in-person days at school. Serve as an example of what to do. Share that you support the why’s behind the measures necessary. Reaffirm why these measures are important and why using them will help you protect others.”
The Douglas County Health Department has been working very closely with all of the schools inside the county to best prepare them to return to in-person learning. Phillips said, “Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not going away before the school year begins. If everyone supports the measures to reduce the spread, in-person school days have their best chance of continuing. In continuing, all can count on more consistent schedules. The restrictions in public spaces can remain menial and all in Douglas County can safely enjoy more normalcy, with fewer disruptions. Preventative measures are the only way schools have a chance of remaining open in-person. The responsibilities COVID-19 has added to staff and school districts are unparalleled.”
Phillips went on to stress the importance that students continue the good practices that are being implemented at school when they get home. She said “it would be unfair not to recognize the need for prevention outside of school and expect our you to understand the importance of why they need to do the right thing.”
She ended saying, “It would be beneficial for all parents, guardians, and care providers to begin modeling and using the terms students will hear in school, as well as the why’s. The more they understand, the more they will respect and accept the need for these measures. Understanding that while they are healthy, their actions and conduct can impact others who may not be healthy, incorporating washing hands with soap for 20 seconds, explaining the whys behind 6ft distancing, and why it’s important to pair 6ft distancing with a face cover/mask in public and school spaces. You will be giving them their best chance for success.
Voicing or modeling outside of school is counterproductive if your goal is to realize more normalcy. We can’t model opposition to prevention and then expect our child to respect the need for it at school. Public health and school officials are doing all we can but parents/grandparents/caregivers, you hold the most influential role. Please model by your example and give kids you love their best chance of success before in-person school begins. Make the 3 w’s part of your everyday – wash, watch, and wear and then share the why’s.
Together we can do this.”