Coronavirus: Clark County, ODH to hold free pop-up testing next week; Wittenberg results come in

Only a few students walked around on campus at Wittenberg University Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Only a few students walked around on campus at Wittenberg University Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Clark County Combined Health District and Ohio Department of Health will hold a free COVID-19 pop-up testing clinic next week, according to the district’s health commissioner.

The scheduling of the clinic couldn’t come at a better time as it will help the district measure how much the COVID-19 outbreak at Wittenberg University has spread into the community. CCCHD Commissioner Charles Patterson said,.

The drive-thru and walk-up testing clinic will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 in the parking lot across from the Southern Village Shopping at 1100 Sunset Ave. in Springfield. Results from testing will be available to patients within 48 hours, Patterson said.

“We know that the schools are coming back in session. We know that more people are seeking tests, which is good, we want people to get tested so we know what’s out there, so we are happy to be able to provide this testing," Patterson said. “The great thing about it is that two-day turnaround, so if we do find positive cases, which we will, we are able to take action right away.”

The location for testing was selected because of the high number of positive COVID-19 cases within the 45505 ZIP code, Patterson said. According to data from the CCCHD, 223 cases or 21.4% of all positive cases in the county have come from the 45505 ZIP code, as of Friday.

The clinic will be the fourth pop-up testing site the county has hosted. The CCCHD and the city of Springfield partnered to host three clinics throughout the month of July.

ExploreCoronavirus: 2,278 people tested at three Clark County free clinics, 2.7% test positive

As of Friday, Wittenberg reported 86 active cases of the virus on campus, according to their website. The university reported its first case about two weeks ago.

Patterson said one thing particularly troubling about the outbreak at Wittenberg is the amount of “close contacts” each positive case has. Close contacts are identified through the contact tracing of a positive case.

A close contact is defined as “anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated,” according to the CDC.

“A normal person, when we do contact tracing, might have three to five contacts on average,” Patterson said. “But unfortunately, with these students when Wittenberg has done contact tracing we are seeing 10 to 15 contacts, per student, which is why you are seeing it spread so rapidly.”

Wittenberg President Michael Frandsen joined Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conference on Thursday to discuss this point. He said the university has been able to determine the spread of the virus has been taking place “in residential areas and social gathering, not in the classroom or dining halls.”

ExploreCoronavirus: Wittenberg president tells DeWine how university is handling outbreak

“We have about 60 houses adjacent to campus that anywhere from three to five students live in, so we are fortunate in that we aren’t seeing spread in our dormitories. We are seeing the spread in those residential housing units, neighbors to neighbors, block to block,” Frandsen told DeWine.

The university held a free mass-testing event on Wednesday with the help of the Ohio National Guard and in partnership with the CCCHD. At the event, 446 people were tested for the virus, Frandsen said.

“We got those results back. It looks like there are about 30 people who are positive from that. Hopefully, now we know the extent of that so we can start to slow the spread of that on campus,” Patterson said.

Wittenberg moved temporarily to remote learning Tuesday with plans to resume in-person classes on Sept. 21.

Clark County had 1,579 cases, 33 deaths and two probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon, according to Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio reported 135,326 total cases and 4,403 deaths of the coronavirus on Friday, according to ODH. Between Thursday and Friday, the state reported 1,240 new cases and 49 new deaths – both of which are above the 21-day average of 1,061 and 21.

Facts & Figures:

1,579: Total cases of the coronavirus in Clark County

33: Confirmed coronavirus deaths in Clark County

86: Active cases at Wittenberg University