Ogle County residents had a chance at a quick and easy COVID-19 test on Monday in Forreston and Mt. Morris.
Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness provided mobile testing sites for two hours in each village that yielded 15 tests in Forreston and eight tests as of 3 p.m. in Mt. Morris.
“I was expecting to see a little bit more people coming in,” Aunt Martha’s Health Educator Oswaldo Lopez said. “We haven’t seen as many as we wanted here. We expected quite a few people. It’s been kind of slow. I think we need to do more outreach. I think a lot of people don’t know we’re here. Only a few people know, and those people were here.”
Lopez, who was administering the tests, said he came prepared with 250 tests for the day. When testing in Coal City, he said they did 70 tests at one site.
This was the first time in the area for Aunt Martha’s and Lopez said testing numbers were close to other similar-sized communities they’ve been in.
The testing was done in a drive-thru format. Testees are given a form to fill out and self-test. If they don’t want to test themselves, the test is administered to them. There was no appointment required like at a hospital.
“This is accessible and takes a few minutes,” Lopez said. “The longest is to fill out the form. If you have insurance, we collect that. It is free for people without insurance. We want people to have access. We try to bill the insurance, if they say no, we cover it. In other words, yes, it’s free.”
There were no symptoms required to be tested. 80 percent of cases are asymptomatic, Lopez said. Most of those that came to be tested wanted it just to make sure they don’t have it, he said.
“It’s for their conscience,” Lopez said. “They want to make sure they aren’t carriers. They have a good sense of morality. That’s wonderful.”
Lopez said Aunt Martha’s tests all over the state at churches, schools and parking lots. The testing site at the Mt. Morris Sullivan’s was their first grocery store. Lopez said he enjoyed it because of the possibility of attracting shoppers that didn’t know about the testing beforehand.
About 80 percent of those that came out to be tested Monday were senior citizens, Lopez said. The other 10 percent were adults and the rest were minors.
Testees were asked why they wanted to be tested. If they believe they’ve been exposed, they were asked to bring people who have been around them in for testing.
The testing method was PCR format, not a rapid test. The PCR format is more accurate, Lopez said. The rapid test method can have results back in 15 minutes, but has a larger margin of error, he said.
“The return rate is 3-5 days,” Lopez said. “It has been sooner, even. They find out through us. It’s faster than month’s past. We had to close down for two weeks for too many tests. Our labs were so slow. Now it’s much faster.”
Aunt Martha’s started as a social services organization for youth in 1972. It evolved into medical care, foster homes, substance abuse help and more for underserved, rural communities.
Mobile testing will also be done in Polo on Monday, Sept. 28 from 11-1 p.m. at 212 S. Division Ave.