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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

NYIT involved in new partnership to increase COVID testing in the region

JONESBORO, Ark- The New York Institute of Technology, College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Arkansas Department of Health, A-State and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, are partnering together.

The group will use a portion of those antigen tests to travel across the region and test underserve populations.

“Right now, we have gaps and we have areas throughout the state where the testing is not occurring,” says NYIT Dean Dr. Shane Speight. “An individual typically could go to their county health unit or physician’s office. But even that there are still areas throughout the state that don’t have adequate testing. The idea behind this is to use these mobile units to provide testing in those needed areas.”

The announcement of the 12,000-antigen test came from Gov. Hutchinson during his weekly COVID press conference.

The antigen tests will be distributed in areas across the state. NYIT will use their Delta Health care-a-van and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission’s mobile unit to test in northeast and eastern Arkansas.

Using the two clinic rooms and lab the unit has on board.

Dr. Jennifer dillaha with the ADH explains the importance of the antigen test as we head into the fall.

“In the fall, there will be other respiratory viruses that start to circulate,” says Dr. Dillaha. “And many of the symptoms will be similar to the symptoms people will have with COVID-19. This is an easy way for someone who has symptoms to determine if they have COVID-19.”

With antigen test results coming back in 15 minutes. Dr. Dillaha says this will help determine if a person has COVID and get them and those who are expose into quarantine immediately.

The tests will also be available at all health department units in the state.

Dr. Speights the ADH will coordinate when the units go to areas to test. He says this could affect areas for years to come.

“Anything that we can do to really increase the education regarding COVID-19, increase testing, and contact tracing in these underserved areas, rural areas,” says Dr. Speight. “Anything we can do to possibly impact that will be felt for many generations to come. We need to be acting now to make a positive impact down the road.”

With all health department units receiving the antigen tests, Dr. Dillaha hopes children and college students take advantage of the opportunity to get tested.

With the fast turnaround time, she hopes it will prevent more COVID outbreaks on college and school campuses in the state.

While the antigen test is free at local health units, Dr. Dillaha encourages people who have health insurance to use it when getting tested.

This is due to the ADH picking up the tab but hoping to be reimbursed when possible.


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