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Caddo Commissioner Seeks to Partner with LSUHSC to Provide Mobile COVID19 Testing

Legislation is set to be voted on Thursday by the Caddo Parish Commission which would allocate up to $300,000 to form a partnership with LSU Health Science Center to provide Covid-19 testing in medically underserved areas throughout the parish.

LSU Health Science Center has a new Emerging Viral Health Clinic that produces Covid-19 test results in 24 hours. These tests would be made available to individuals in communities that are deemed the most in need. Commissioner Steven Jackson, who is presenting the legislation said, “This is particularly for individuals who are medically underserved or have access barriers. We want to go off data with the Health Unit to see where there is significant community spread and be aggressive with testing.”

Individuals would still be required to be showing symptoms for testing to be available to them. However, Jackson believes this could slow spread as people in rural communities and communities with limited or no health services would not have to travel to access testing.

This week Governor John Bel Edwards announced African Americans make up 70% of the deaths linked to the Coronavirus. “Obviously, this is a big disparity and we’re going to try to figure out what that is attributable to and what we can do about that as quickly as possible,” Edwards said.

“We should be encouraging as much testing as possible,” Jackson said, “We don’t want to stigmatize testing like we see with AIDS, HIV and diabetes. Those things plague our community because we stigmatize testing when we should be promoting it very hard at the onset. If we amp up our testing, that lets us know where the virus is spreading.”

The funds would be set to come from Caddo Parish’s reserve fund at this time, however, Caddo Parish citizens do pay a tax for health related services which may be used.

The vote is set for the Commission’s Thursday meeting, which will be held at the chamber at Government Plaza, however some commissioners are set to attend the meeting via the internet meeting platform, Zoom. There are expected to be no more than 10 people within the chamber. Anyone with public comments will mostly likely be expected to wait in the lobby until their designated time to speak.

Jackson points to Taiwan and South Korea’s strategies of tracking data to contain the virus. He says he hopes the information provided by more aggressive testing is the key to reopening large swaths of the economy which have been negatively affected by safety responses to Covid-19.

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