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City Residents Line Up for Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

A staff person at the COVID-19 rapid test site at Wilson High School Dec. 8 prepares a sample for analysis. Photo by Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

The free rapid COVID-19 testing sites in the city are drawing more residents than anticipated, and officials expect to request more kits sooner than they had thought they’d be needed.

“It’s been very successful,” Cephas Archie, the city’s chief equity officer, said Dec. 8 as cars stretched around the block at Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School.

“We don’t want to discourage people from coming,” said Archie. “We want to encourage those residents of the city. We need Rochester residents. This opportunity is for them.”

The city and the towns of Irondequoit, Brighton and Gates are working with the county to provide several days of free testing for people who are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. Parts of each municipality are in the state-designated orange zone, based on measures such as number of cases and rate of positive tests.

Cars stretch down Aberdeen Street and onto Genesee Street at the start of testing on Dec. 8 at Wilson High School. Photo by Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

Registration for tests is requested, and town residents are encouraged to sign up for tests where they live. However, spots filled quickly and some residents may have sought the location and time that was available or fit their schedule.

As of Dec. 9, only a handful of times were left – and those were in Brighton. Registration is at www.monroecounty.gov/healthcalls/register.

In October, the Race Equity and Leadership Rapid Response Team worked with some churches to host test sites. That 12-day initiative served about 1,200 people and is the model for how the current testing is being conducted.

The current program is the first large-scale free testing in the city. People are able to walk in, although drive-ups are preferred.

The demand now far exceeds what organizers saw in October. Archie said the designation as an orange zone provided more opportunities for testing. Testing began Dec. 5 at East High School, and about 400 people showed up. Archie said that about 500 people came to Franklin High School on Dec. 7.

Testing is scheduled through the end of December at four city sites and people are registered on each available day. Archie said that at the current pace, the sites will be out of tests in two weeks. He said the city has gone through about 1,500 of the 4,100 tests allotted.

He said the city meets daily with Monroe County officials, who are supplying the tests through the state.

He said the city wants to extend the testing into January and beyond.