A new state-funded drive-thru COVID-19 testing site is up and running — just not in the location health officials first thought.
Good Samaritan Hospital on Monday announced that the new testing site has been folded into the Convenient Care Clinic at 1813 Willow St.
The hospital just last month finalized the purchase of the old surgery center at 300 N. First St., and officials had plans to open a new state-funded testing site there in partnership with both Vincennes University and the Knox County Health Department.
It was the health department that applied for and received the $100,000 grant that is helping to pay for it all.
“Our original plans were to open a new testing site on First Street, however, after much consideration, we decided it would be more feasible to just expand testing through our Convenient Care Clinic,” said Adam Thacker, chief operations officer at Good Samaritan, in a press release issued Monday.
“By utilizing the Convenient Care Clinic, we can put more of the state funding toward testing supplies and be able to test more individuals in the community.”
County health officer Dr. Alan Stewart, who has been actively involved in the grant process, said with the First Street building having just been purchased two weeks ago, there was simply too much work to be done in order to get the testing site up and running.
“The building is in pretty good shape, but there was still work to do,” he said. “We thought it would be a great building, what with that canopy and everything, for a drive-thru testing site, but the (Convenient Care Clinic on Willow Street) will work great, too.
“The state wanted to get going on this fast.”
The Convenient Care Clinic was the site of the city’s first drive-thru testing facility early on in the pandemic.
Those wanting a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, can be tested at the clinic, which will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and again from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Patients visiting the clinic must call 812-885-8941 to check in and to receive further instruction for testing.
Stewart, too, said he is hopeful that, as of Oct. 1, test turnaround times will improve as Knox County begins sending its samples to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville instead of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Currently, it’s taking anywhere from 48 to 72 hours to get a COVID-19 result, Stewart said. Couriering them to Deaconess instead should reduce that by 24 hours.
The state Department of Health on Monday reported an additional seven cases of the novel coronavirus here in Knox County, bringing the total now to 441.
Stewart said the county had been averaging anywhere from 10-15 new cases per day; that’s now dropped to 5-10 per day.
That’s after a recent one-day surge of 17 new cases, a day Stewart is calling the “Labor Day surge.”
“I was expecting that, unfortunately,” he said. “But I’m hopeful that with travel now out of the way, we’ll do better.
“We will be moving more inside,” he added, “which is a concern, but we’ll just have to see how it goes and hope that people are careful.”
Knox County currently has 72 active cases of COVID-19; nine will fall off today, leaving that at 70. The county’s 7-day positivity rate is just under 9%.
There are still eight people being treated for COVID-19 at GSH, he said; of those, four are from Knox County, and two of those are in critical condition on a ventilator.
There have been eight COVID-19 deaths among Knox County residents so far, but none in recent days, Stewart said.
According to its online COVID tracker, the North Knox School Corp. has six active cases, two at the Junior Senior High School and four at the Intermediate School.
Neither South Knox nor the Vincennes Community School Corp. are reporting any active cases at this time.
Indiana reported 755 new cases of coronavirus Monday and an additional two deaths, bringing the totals since the start of the pandemic to 106,540 and 3,215 deaths. An additional 224 people are thought to have probably died of coronavirus in the past six months.
Just over 20% of people who have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the pandemic fall in the 20 to 29 age range, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star. However that age range accounts for only 0.3% of the deaths. Those over 80 make up 51% of the deaths, but just under 6% of positive cases.
Stewart, too, said anyone who got an invitation by mail from the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health to participate in a random sampling COVID-19 study either on Sept. 29 or Oct. 1 can rest assured that the testing is legit.
Fairbanks has been in Knox County on previous occasions — including one testing site at Walmart — as part of a random sampling study.
Participants are sent an invitation by mail, Stewart said.
This next testing site will be set up at the hospital itself, specifically conference room J just inside the Sixth Street entrance.