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COVID-19 testing begins at The Word Church in Cleveland

The church's pastor wanted to help those in the African-American community who have been disproportionately infected.

CLEVELAND — Drive-up coronavirus testing is taking place once again, but this time it's not happening at a health care facility. Rather, it's occurring at The Word Church in Cleveland, which helped organize the event.

"We contacted the Board of Health, [and] MetroHealth partnered with them," Senior Pastor R.A. Vernon told 3News. "Next thing we know, the ball was rolling."

This type of partnership, while not original, is the first of it's kind in Cleveland.

"I was hearing disproportionately how persons of color have been impacted by this pitiful pandemic," Vernon said. "Friends of mine, colleagues across the country had told me they were doing testing from their parking lots. I said to myself, 'Cleveland needs that.'"

In Ohio, African-Americans make up 26% of those who test positive for COVID-19, despite accounting for just 14% of the state's population.

"We have to be more vigilant, more careful," Vernon said. "Again, I love everyone, but particularly those on the chocolate side of town where I was reared and raised. I had to do something to do our best to stop this pandemic."

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Tests are being conducted by appointment only, and the take less than five minutes per person. Those who are 65 and older and those with pre-existing health conditions are the priority, and about 200 people received tests at Thursday's event, one that organizers would like to see happen more frequently.

"We need to kill corona, kill this pandemic," Vernon declared. "All of us [need to] partner together. Cleveland, Akron, Northeast Ohio—we can get through this."

And while the pastor makes no claims to be a physician, he has a warning for the public as we head towards summer. 

"Just because the weather is changing does not mean corona's gone," he said. "Young people need to know though it may not kill you, [but] you can become a carrier and maybe kill grandma."

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