The multi-campus Church of the Highlands in Alabama says it will begin offering drive-through coronavirus testing at its Grandview campus starting Tuesday, even for people who can't afford to pay for it.
In partnership with Assurance Scientific and the Christ Health Center, Alabama residents who have either been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms such as a cough or fever can receive testing at the Church of the Highlands campus on Grandview Parkway.
In a statement on its a website, Alabama’s largest church said the test site will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be operated in consultation with the Jefferson County Department of Health.
Testing will be limited to 500 people per day to best allocate resources.
“Testing resources are scarce nationally and are limited to those experiencing symptoms of cough or fever or persons who have had direct in-person exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19,” a Church of the Highlands Facebook post reads. “Please help protect these resources by not presenting if you are not certain you need to be tested.”
Test results will be made available within 72 hours.
Those who come for testing will be asked pre-screening questions to see if they qualify for the test.
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“In the interest of public health, all persons must remain in their vehicles with their windows rolled-up,” a joint press release from the Christ Health Center and Church of the Highlands explains. “As you are presenting for possible contagious disease, no restroom facilities will be available.”
The release explains that anyone coming for COVID-19 testing is declaring that they “should self-quarantine until such time you receive a negative COVID-19 test result.”
Those who are tested at the site will be billed through their insurance provider, whether that be a major insurance carrier or Medicare or Medicaid.
Church of the Highlands, Assurance Scientific and Christ Health Center have also created a fund to cover the cost of anyone who does not have insurance so that “no one will be turned away for inability to pay.”
The statement on the church’s website advises older adults and those with chronic medical conditions to avoid crowds.
Church of the Highlands Senior Pastor Chris Hodges preached his sermon on Sunday, much like many other pastors across the United States, to an empty room with thousands watching at home.
“It’s a whole lot more than whether we have a church service or not,” Hodges said at the start of his sermon. “Our church is not a service, our church has a service. This is really one small part of who we are as a church.”
Hodges said that church representatives have been meeting with local health officials and mayors to figure out how the church can “serve our communities in every way we can.”
“If you have hope, listen to me, our city needs us right now,” Hodges said. “The people around us need us right now and people are discouraged. They think the sky is falling. This is serious, make no mistake about it. This is a global pandemic. It’s a serious issue. We are going to survive this. I know we are.”
Church of the Highlands launched Grandview as its 14th campus after purchasing the former Cahaba Grand Conference Center in 2016.
Church of the Highlands is not the only church serving as a coronavirus testing site.
Another is the multicampus Biltmore Church in Asheville, North Carolina, which is holding drive-through testing at its campus in Arden operated by Buncombe County Health and Human Services.
The testing will be available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or based on the availability of supplies, according to The Ashville Citizen-Times.
Much like in Alabama, testing at Biltmore Church will only be for those who have come in contact with someone with coronavirus or are exhibiting symptoms.
As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control reported 3,487 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 68 related deaths. The virus has been reported in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The average age of death from the new coronavirus is 80.