New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, led by pastor Jamal Bryant, announced Thursday that it canceled a two-day drive-thru event at the church where up to 1,000 people would have been tested for COVID-19 for a fee of $150 each.
In a statement posted on the church’s Facebook page and shared with local media, the church said it decided to postpone the event that was scheduled for April 4-5 to comply with an executive order expected to be signed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday.
“To remain compliant with Governor Brian Kemp's executive order, which is being signed today and goes into effect on Friday, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and various medical partners will postpone the COVID-19 testing scheduled for this weekend. We look forward to coordinating with our local and state officials to support flattening the curve in Georgia and helping to heal our nation and our world from this global pandemic,” the statement said.
“Based off of these more stringent regulations placed in Georgia, we are also forced to suspend our drive-in worship experience planned for this year's Resurrection Service. New Birth will continue to stream our weekly sermons online and across our digital platforms. New Birth will continue to serve 1,000 individuals each Saturday at the King's Table (food pantry) as we adhere to federal and state emergency food distribution center guidelines,” the statement added.
The Christian Post reached out to both Bryant and New Birth on Thursday for further comment on the tests but a response was not immediately available.
In a broadcast on Facebook Live Wednesday which was removed from his Facebook page Thursday morning, Bryant announced that an agreement was reached between RoweDocs and Oakhurst health clinics to provide 1,000 coronavirus tests to minorities.
“New Birth, as of today is in possession of 1,000 COVID-19 tests…that are gonna be made available to our community. Absolutely amazing that we are going to be ….able to serve more minorities in COVID-19 testing than anywhere else in the nation. I’m excited about it and I am ashamed about it,” he said.
Bryant revealed at least a week ago that he was in possession of the tests and told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was approached by a Florida lab that wanted to partner with his church to provide test kits.
The spread of the pandemic is forcing churches to “live out loud and do what we’re called to do, which is to provide a service,” he told the publication.
The process to obtain a test at New Birth would have involved a pre-screening to be performed by RoweDocs for a fee of $25 followed by an additional cost of $125 for a COVID-19 test.
Potential testers were urged to check with their local insurers about testing.
According to The Wall Street Journal, testing for the new coronavirus is mostly free as current legislation forces health insurers and employers to cover the cost of lab tests and visits to healthcare providers for screening without any out-of-pocket charges. There might still be costs, however, if a test is returned negative.
Bryant told the AJC that priority testing was reserved for those who are displaying symptoms, at-risk older people and people with compromised immune systems, then the larger community.