COVID testing offered for free


Anyone can now request a test regardless of symptoms.

  • COVID testing offered for free
    COVID testing offered for free

CLAYTON—Georgia residents can now receive a COVID-19 test even if they aren’t experiencing symptoms of the disease.

There are two ways to be tested.

To receive the test for free through the Georgia Dept. of Public Health (GDPH), Rabun County residents will have to drive to a nearby county, as the state has not yet set up a specimen collection site locally.

In addition, some Rabun health care providers are making the test available locally, but there may be a fee for the service.

To receive a free test, Rabun residents can contact the Rabun County Health Department at 706-212-0289, said County Nurse Manager Cheryl Harbin Tuesday.

The local health agency will schedule an appointment for testing at sites that have been established in Gainesville, Towns County or Franklin County.

Beginning this weekend, an additional testing site will open in Habersham County.

The state testing involves a nasal swab for a sample that will be used to determine if COVID-19 is present.

Harbin said the current wait time for test results is from 4-7 days, though private labs may have faster turnaround times.

“Anybody can have the test,” Harbin said, though an appointment made through the health department is necessary for state testing.

Regardless of whether you want to be tested through the health department or your personal health care provider, Harbin advised you call ahead and make an appointment if you are not experiencing symptoms.

If you are having a health emergency, call 911 immediately, she said.

As of Tuesday evening, the official GDPH website reported only one additional confirmed case of COVID-19 in Rabun County for the past week.

COVID-19 data on the site can be as many as 14 days behind real-time confirmations, according to the website.

A total of 14 confirmed cases COVID-19 were reported for Rabun County.

There has been one confirmed death and five hospitalizations attributed to the disease locally.

Statewide, 34,848 confirmed COVID-19 cases were being reported at press time, resulting in 6,227 hospitalizations and 1,494 deaths.

Bars, Nightclubs remain closed

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday he plans to extend mandatory statewide closures for bars and nightclubs in Georgia amid ongoing concerns over the coronavirus, which to date has killed nearly 1,500 people in the state and sickened thousands more.

But the governor will allow summer day camps to open and relax some restrictions on restaurants in the coming days, as state health officials continue seeing downward trends in hospital admissions, ventilator use and infection rates tied to COVID-19.

The update comes less than two weeks after Kemp decided to let Georgia’s shelter-in-place order expire for all residents in the state, except for persons who are age 65 and older, living in long-term elderly care facilities or with chronic health conditions. Those individuals are still under a shelter-in-place order set to last through June 12.

On Tuesday, the governor again urged everyone in Georgia to seek diagnostic testing for coronavirus to improve the state’s data collection, which has seen a big boost in recent weeks following an increase in testing. He noted the rate of positive COVID-19 test results compared to negative results is declining daily, marking a slowdown in the spread of the virus – but that Georgians should not get complacent.

“We’re in a good place,” Kemp said Tuesday. “We just want to keep these numbers moving in the right direction.”

At a news conference late Tuesday, Kemp said he has issued a new executive order requiring bars, nightclubs and live-performance venues to remain closed through the end of May. He also said existing social-distancing and sanitizing requirements at many close-contact businesses will stay in place through the rest of this month.

Restaurants, however, will be allowed to serve a maximum of 10 patrons per table instead of six, as had been required over the past several weeks. They will also be able to serve 10 patrons per 300 square feet, Kemp said.

The Capitol Beat News Service a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Georgia, contributed to this story.