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'A blessing': How this church gave 100+ COVID-19 tests without any long waits

"These lines are ridiculous. We have to do something. I believe it starts here with our own church, so that's all I want to do. All I want to do is be a blessing to somebody."

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Doctors agree a nationwide test shortage is only worsening COVID-19's grip on the United States. But it's also inspiring community groups to act.

Greater Providence Baptist Church in New Orleans gave roughly 200 tests Tuesday — no appointments needed. The event marked a welcome offering for people who have wasted days unsuccessfully searching for tests.

"I thank God for this, because it's been so hard to find testing," said Casey Turner, a mail carrier who needs a negative test before returning to work. "I was in and out in less than five minutes here. It was perfect."

Pastor Javonte Jimcoily decided to offer tests at his church following his own recent ordeal with long waits and site closures.

"These lines are ridiculous," he said. "We have to do something. I believe it starts here with our own church, so that's all I want to do. All I want to do is be a blessing to somebody."

Tulane epidemiologist Dr. Susan Hassig hopes more churches and community centers can follow suit, provided they can acquire enough kits to administer tests.

"If they have a supply they can utilize and target toward their communities, I think that's a totally appropriate and relevant role for them to play," she said.

As for Turner, she expects to get her results in about two days. That's nothing, she argues, compared to the peace of mind she feels now — and she wants others to feel it, too.

"Families would feel more secure," she said. "I think it wouldn't be as chaotic as what's going on right now."

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