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Atlanta Medical Association urges aggressive COVID-19 testing in Black communities

A senior woman of African descent sits outside while looking contemplative. She is dressed warmly in her sweater and looks cozy. She is looking into the camera.

Several Drive-Thru Testing Centers to Open in Metro-Atlanta in Preparation for Georgia’s re-opening

The African-American community is being severely impacted by Covid 19 infection and although African-Americans make up a small part of the demographics of most states, they are dying at an alarmingly high rate compared to other races. According to an association of African-American doctors in metro-Atlanta, the only way to address this tragedy is to immediately increase the amount of testing being done in the African American community.

The Atlanta Medical Association, an organization comprised of almost 1000 Black doctors from metro Atlanta, says that at the current time the amount of testing being done in the African-American community is unacceptable.

“We cannot wait for the government to step in and save us, says Atlanta Medical Association President Dr. Frank Jones. “We have to initiate testing of our community on our own and have found a clinical partner that is ready to set up several drive thru testing centers throughout metro Atlanta, but we are going to need some financial support from the business community to help move this forward,” he said.

MAJL Diagnostic Laboratories, an accredited national laboratory testing and diagnostics center with locations in Atlanta and Tulsa, is working with The Atlanta Medical Association and other community partners in a concerted effort to provide Covid-19 testing to anyone who needs it.

Dr. Darren Naugles, an emergency medicine physician, is the Chief Medical Officer at Elite Medical Associates, and is one of the medical professionals who will be working closely with MAJL Diagnostic Laboratories to address the serious lack of adequate testing in the Atlanta area.

“This is about lack of testing and the critical need to get people access to the test,” says Dr. Naugles. “We know the mortality rate is much higher in minority communities and the earlier a person knows their COVID-19 status, the earlier they can seek proper medical attention,” he continued.

“Although testing is slowly becoming more available in the Atlanta area, most people are still not able to get tested– especially if you do not have severe symptoms, and this is especially critical for people who may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus,” said Dr. Naugles.

Naugles said that MAJL will be offering the rapid fingerstick antibody test and the nasal swab molecular test. However, he shared that as a small commercial lab, they are unable to offer free testing and are charging just enough to cover the costs of the test, processing of the test, and to pay medical personnel administering the test. The cost for the antibody test is $100 and the nasal swab test is $250.

“We want to be an accessible and trusted resource to the community and are very sensitive to the fact that many within minority communities may not have the funds to pay for testing, so the lab has submitted proposals to the state, local municipalities, and philanthropic organizations for funding to be able to offer free tests in the near future,” shared Naugles. “However, cash pay patients do not need a physician’s order, nor do they have to be symptomatic. This is important for patients who do not qualify for free testing at health departments or local hospitals,” he said.

The MAJL Diagnostic Laboratories began testing on Friday, April 16, initially preparing to run tests three days a week from 9:00am to 5:00pm at their clinic located at 6320 McDonough Drive, Ste. D., Norcross, 30093. In addition, in partnership with key community organizations like the Atlanta Medical Association and drive thru clinics will also be established three days a week to meet the need, beginning in late April. One drive thru clinic is currently open in Norcross located at 6290 McDonough Drive, Suite D and there are plans for drive thru clinics in the southeast and southwest parts of Atlanta. Depending on the intensity of demand, testing may be expanded to five days a week and the laboratory is expected to accommodate approximately 300-500 tests a day.

All patients interested in testing must register online at www.covidtestkitnow.com, where they can order a test. Upon receipt of order, patients will be called to schedule an appointment time. They can also schedule an appointment and register by calling 877/272-5008. No walk up testing at the clinic is available.

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