Fairgrounds

Columbia County's first mass screening for the COVID-19 virus will be held today.

Screening and testing for the COVID-19 virus will continue at the Columbia County Fairgrounds until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Vehicles started lining up at the fairgrounds north of Southern Arkansas University about 7 a.m. for the start of screening at 10 a.m., said Magnolia Fire Chief Greg Pinner. He is the president of the Columbia County Local Emergency Planning Committee, which sponsored the event.

Dr. Fred Murphy, Columbia County Health Officer, said that 40 people had received nasal swab tests through noon. Many more people were screened and did not require testing for the virus.

CLICK HERE to watch a video interview conducted with Dr. Murphy during the screening and testing clinic.

Magnolia Dr. Jason Franks was conducting the initial screening. Once people got to the testing stage, Arkansas Department of Health personnel and other volunteers took over.

Jeff Weeks of Natural State Laboratories was also on site. Natural State will analyze the samples that are collected. People who have received the tests will know within 48 hours whether they are positive or negative for the virus.

Weeks praised the organizational effort put into the Columbia County screening by Twana Hendricks, director of the Columbia County Health Unit.

People don’t have to be Columbia County residents to be tested. Those persons receiving tests will be asked for their identification and insurance cards, but no one without them will be turned away.

Volunteers from local medical offices, local law enforcement and the Magnolia Fire Department were all assisting at the clinic.

At present, there’s only one known COVID-19 case in Columbia County. Testing conducted on Thursday may reveal the presence of more.

People who think they are experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath, or who have been exposed to someone with the COVID-19 virus, are encouraged to attend.

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