Area faith leaders gathered online with city and county elected officials today to push for increased access to coronavirus tests for people of color as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
The virtual town hall organized by Faith in Indiana – a group dedicated to racial and economic equality – included City Council members Glynn Hines, D-at large, and Michelle Chambers, D-at large, and discussion about launching testing sites on Fort Wayne's southeast side and providing other help to residents such as personal protective equipment.
Allen County Council member Sheila Curry-Campbell and county Commissioner Nelson Peters also participated.
That came as the Allen County Health Department and Kroger announced plans to offer free tests beginning next week at the city's Public Safety Academy, 7602 Patriot Crossing.
Data show COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, disproportionately affects black patients. As of April 30, according to the local health department, about 16% of patients with COVID-19 were black.
About 12% of the county's 379,000-person population is black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Hoosiers – no matter our race, religion or ZIP code – care deeply about our families," said Conda Ridley of Faith in Allen County, a subset of Faith in Indiana. "We've seen health care workers, public school employees, grocery store workers and more step up during this crisis and keep us safe. Now let's make sure our elected officials step up for them and prioritize a no-cost testing site on the southeast side."
Self-administered testing at the Public Safety Academy will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 14-15, 21-22 and 28-29. Patients must register at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting.
The Indiana State Department of Health announced 541 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 21,033, with 1,213 deaths. In Allen County there are 695 confirmed cases and 55 deaths, according to state data.