by Robin Kemp

Clayt0n County residents started lining up before dawn to get free COVID-19 test kits Thursday morning.

More than 1,680 kits were passed out at Tara Stadium alone, where people started showing up at 5 a.m., county officials told The Clayton Crescent. Additional test distribution sites were set up for members of county senior centers.

According to county spokesperson Valerie Fuller,  “A lot of people can’t afford the kits. They’re expensive. This is something the Board of Commissioners has been wanting to do. We know the county has a low percentage of vaccinated people and we’ve been working hard to get these kits.”

Fuller added, “People have been saying, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.'”

At least three people got in line thinking it was for free COVID-19 vaccinations, Fuller said. “People were asking to be vaccinated, as well, so next time we might set that up.”

Kits were limited to one bag per vehicle, with two tests inside each bag. The idea is to get two tests into each household. If one person tests positive, the household can then take action to self-isolate or consult a doctor or the Clayton County Health Department.

Each of three locations–Tara Stadium, Twelve Oaks Stadium, and Southern Crescent Stadium–had 3,000 kits available between 9 a.m. and 12 noon.

At Tara Stadium, 1,850 kits containing two tests each were distributed (1,150 left). Twelve Oaks handed out 1,752 kits (1,248 left). Southern Crescent gave away 1,773 kits (1,227 left). That means 3,625 kits containing two COVID-19 tests each (7,250 tests total) will be available for another event soon. A total of 10,750 individual COVID-19 tests were handed out today.

During the event, President Joe Biden went on national television to say Washington has bought one billion test kits and mail them for free to people who want them. Biden also said the federal government will provide free high-quality masks and is deploying military medical personnel to five states (Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Rhode Island) where hospitals have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Details of the federal test and mask distributions will be announced next week.

Among those who kept the line of cars running quickly and efficiently were members of the Clayton County Public Schools Police, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department, Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services, and the Clayton County Police Department. Among those directing traffic and handing out test kits were CCFES Chief Landry Merkison, who also serves as Chief Resilience Officer and EMA Director. County Chairman Jeff Turner dropped by, as did District 4 Commissioner DeMont Davis.

The event was sponsored by the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, Clayton County Board of Education.

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