Orleans hosted first free rapid testing clinic today at Fairgrounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2020 at 6:26 pm

400 tested with 12 positives for Covid-19; Next county clinic on Monday

Photos by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – Motorists line up outside the Trolley Building at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds to give self-administered Covid-19 rapid tests.

This was the first free rapid testing clinic offered in Orleans County. There were 360 people tested, as well as 42 personnel who ran the clinic. Of those 402 tests, there were 12 people who were positive for Covid-19. (None of the personnel were positive for the virus.)

The 12 positives out of 402 tests is a positivity rate of 3 percent. That is much lower than the county’s positivity rate the previous seven days, which was 9.6 percent, the highest of the nine counties in the Finger Lakes Region. The Orleans rate on Tuesday was 12.6 percent with 19 positive tests out of 151, according to state data.

Today’s clinic was targeted for asymptomatic individuals. Genesee County had a testing clinic on Tuesday and 60 of the 550 people tested were positive.

“The goal is to identify the positives and get them into isolation to reduce the exposure and not spread it out into the community,” said Paul Pettit, public health director in Orleans and Genesee counties.

Jack Welch, the county’s chief administrative officer, carries a test to another volunteer inside the Trolley Building. The volunteer personnel all wore fitted N-95 masks and face shields.

The state paid for the test kits and the county needed to organize the clinic and find the personnel for the testing. Justin Niederhofer, deputy director of the Orleans County Emergency Management Office, took the lead in organizing the testing clinic and fitting all of the personnel for N-95 masks.

Jack Welch holds one of the nasal swabs which people would self-administer, putting it in a lower nostril for 5 seconds. The results would come back in 15 minutes, with the personnel texting or calling people with their results. They will also receive an email.

The cars are lined up just before the start of the rapid testing clinic at 1 p.m. The drivers and passengers were first screened at the start at a trailer for the Orleans County Emergency Management Office.

Roxanne Wagner, a secretary at the Holley Junior-Senior High School, was among the volunteers at today’s clinic. She puts a testing kit in a plastic bag. Bill Fine is next to her. He also volunteered today.

The county will be offering the testing clinics weekly until at least the end of January. The clinics will usually be on Wednesdays but next week will be on Monday from 1 to 4 p.m. An online registration link is available by clicking here. The clinic will be on Monday next week so it’s not so close to Christmas.

Bill Fine, left, and Paul Grout look closely at one of the test kits to see if the results are negative or positive.

This group of volunteers include Dan Doctor, Medina Central School’s director of community outreach. Many of the local school districts, towns, villages and county departments had personnel at the testing clinic.

“Everything ran smoothly,” Pettit said.

The county had a reduced capacity today for the first testing clinic with about 400 people tested. That will be expanded to 480 tests for the next one on Monday.

Oak Orchard Health also will be offering free Rapid Covid-19 tests at Oak Orchard’s Albion location on Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Click here for more information.