covid blitz

Chiricahua Community Health Center resident support staff supervisor Maritza Garcia, left, and health center administrator Ashley Martinez stand in the Sierra Vista facility Thursday. The health center will be hosting a COVID-19 testing blitz at the Oscar Yrun Community Center Saturday. People wishing to participate in the testing should pre-register before 5 p.m. Friday.

SIERRA VISTA — Chiricahua Community Health Centers first COVID-19 testing blitz takes place Saturday in an effort to test as many Cochise County residents as they can.

Zachary Patterson, a pediatrician and adolescent advocate with Chiricahua, said it was important for the organization to be able to provide this opportunity to the area since its part of Chiricahua mission to provide healthcare to everyone.

“Chiricahua has always operated for the best interest of Cochise County,” he said.

The blitz will be held Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon in the Oscar Yrun Center’s parking lot, and the team from Chiricahua will be testing anyone who feels like they need a test and haven’t been able to get one.

“With us being the largest provider in the county, it’s important we do this for the community,” said Chiricahua Public Relations Specialist Emily Vickers.

Kayla Percy, leader of Chiricahua’s COVID-19 task force, said their will be eight Chiricahua nurses administering the Upper Respiratory Nasotharyngenal swab in the eight-lane drive-thru.

“The goal is no one gets out of their car,” she said. “It should be a quick drive-thru.”

Those who wish to be tested needs to pre-register by Saturday morning. Registration will be done over the phone on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those interested should call 520-515-8648. All pre-registered guests are guaranteed to receive a test.

“If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 of have been exposed, you shouldn’t wait to be tested,” Patterson said. “Eighty percent of people have mild to no symptoms.”

Vickers asks the public to be patient when calling because there will only be two people answering the phones, and they expect a high demand in calls. The receptionists will ask for contact information, so the center can contact everyone with their results and send information via email. Contact information will be shared with the county health department, as they need to contact any positive COVID-19 patient.

Saturday’s blitz is part of Governor Doug Ducey’s mass testing efforts for Arizonans, which started last Saturday. Percy said it was decided on Monday that Chiricahua would participate in the final two Saturdays of the statewide incentive.

She said when more information and clarity was released by the state, they realized it was something they were able to do. Sponsors, including Cochise County Health and Social Services and the Legacy Foundation of Southeastern Arizona, are assisting so the blitz can occur at no cost to those being tested.

“This test will test if you’re sick right now,” Percy said. “This is not the antibody test to see if you had it.”

Members of the National Guard will be on hand Saturday morning to assist with traffic control.

Patterson doesn’t anticipate them having extra tests after the event, which is why he says it’s important for anyone who wants a test to call and register by the end of business day on Friday.

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