BISBEE — Residents of Bisbee began lining up for the free COVID–19 testing at Bisbee High School early Saturday morning thanks to Chiricahua Community Health Centers who offered the tests in the smaller communities of the county.”
Kayla Percy, pediatrician nurse practitioner with CCHC and COVID–19 task force leader, was pleased to be offering the tests in Bisbee. “We wanted to reach all the areas of the county. We started with the larger populations first, Sierra Vista and Douglas, then we offered the testing in Willcox, Benson and Bisbee. We wanted to be sure testing was available to everyone.”
Around 400 people pre-registered for the testing, she added, but there were a number of people who were not pre-registered coming in as well. With 700 tests on hand for Bisbee, and more available if needed, she was pretty confident all who wanted a test would receive one.
Percy noted people would be notified within four to five days if tests were positive. “They get those results back to us as soon as possible. That way, the person can get to their provider or call us for an appointment as soon as possible.”
Those who test positive are questioned about their contacts with people of 10 minutes or more, she explained. Cochise Health and Social Services (CHSS), begins the contact tracing to find people who may have been in close contact over the previous two weeks and may be at risk of infection. CHSS calls the person who tests positive or if necessary goes to the home to make sure the person knows the situation.
“Our goal now is to catch people who may have been exposed as the state is reopening,” said Percy. “If it spreads and the number of cases increases, we can catch it in time and keep people home.”
When told of the test result, people are also informed of the quarantine process and need for isolation, she added.
The people waiting in line to be tested were pleased to hear the swab was more the size of a Q-tip and not the skewer-long, brain-tickling sinus swab used until recently. Percy said the test was as accurate as the longer swab and less invasive.
“It’s recommended because it’s quicker and just as effective,” she noted.
At a table, CCHC revenue cycle manager Recheal Friend was rechecking all names, swabs and documentation to make sure everything matched. “We’ve been very busy this morning,” she said.”
A masked 79-year-old Robert Langham in a truck with his family said he would be able to relax after his testing.
“I’ve been staying at home,” he said. He and Mary Langham both felt it was about time testing was available.
“We should all be wearing masks,” said Mary Langham. “The numbers are starting to pick up now things are reopening. I’m glad to finally get tested.”
Her granddaughter Amber Langham, 17, said, “I think it’s good to know if you have it or not just to stay safe.”
Renee Harper and Leeza Alderson, with 20-something-year-old Mortimer the cat in her lap, waited in line.
Alderson said, “It’s about time. Glad they’re doing it. Wish this had happened sooner before the town started to reopen.
Harper nodded in agreement.
CCHC medical assistant Jennifer Montoya was busy getting all the paperwork and swabs ready for the women’s’ tests as CCHC supervisor of the Bisbee clinic Janet Victoria put on a fresh pair of gloves. Each person had to be met with a clean set of gloves.
Montoya said, “People have been anxious to get the tests and are grateful.”
Victoria proceeded to swab Alderson in each nostril. The process took just seconds. The women were soon on their way and another car was rolling up.
There were two lines for people who had pre-registered and two lines for those who had not. Surprisingly, all the lines moved quickly as the Army National Guard kept traffic moving along.
Someone asked how many tests had been done and Friend hollered back, “We’ve done 286.”
That was in the first two hours, with more people walking up and vehicles rolling up with folks awaiting the tests.