Number of tests for COVID-19 set to double in North Omaha
The number of COVID-19 tests being conducted in North Omaha is set to double this week, but testing is only half the battle for this hard-hit community.
“I’m very careful about where I go,” said 63-year-old Stanley E. Thomas. “I don’t go anywhere but for necessities, my job, the grocery store, the gas station.”
African Americans account for 20 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Douglas County, yet only makeup 11 percent of the population. Thomas, who’s lived in North Omaha his entire life, said too many in his community are unaware of the risk.
“We need to be more adamant about getting the message out to people that this isn’t something to play with,” said Thomas. “This is something that could end your life.”
That’s the message they’re trying to get across at the Charles Drew Health Center in North Omaha.
We have high incidents of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease,” said Kenny McMorris, CEO, Charles Drew Health Center. “For individuals who had comorbidities prior to, it just makes them more susceptible to when they contract this virus that it can have a catastrophic outcome,” noting that many in this community also have high-risk jobs.
“There are a lot of individuals in North Omaha who are essential workers,” said McMorris. “If you think about it not only meatpacking plants, but their delivery drivers, they’re working in our grocery stores.
Testing at Charles Drew Health Center has been upped from about 50 a day to more than 100.
“It’s so important people are getting out and know where they stand because then we can start isolating and making sure we’re keeping the rest of the community safe,” said McMorris.
Thomas agrees everyone needs to do their part.
“Take care of your grandmother’s and your mama’s because when they’re not here you don’t get to call them up on the phone and say, ‘hey mom, hey grandma’ because they’re not here because you didn’t what your suppose to do.”
The Charles Drew Health Center is currently testing people with symptoms of COVID-19, those who live or work in high-risk environments, and anyone who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive.