April 16, 2020 Conyers: Emory Hospital RN Aisha Bennett takes a nasal swab test for COVID-19 in a drive through site at the Georgia International Horse Park recently on Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Conyers. Gov. Brian Kemp has made it a priority to expand testing in Georgia, which has lagged behind many other states in testing on a per capita basis. Public health experts say Georgia and other states need a substantial ramp up in testing to help isolate the virus and future outbreaks. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

COVID-19 test center to open at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Los Angeles-based CORE Response and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation on Thursday plan to open a coronavirus testing site at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The testing center, which will operate at the Home Depot Backyard adjacent to the stadium, will offer free tests to people with appointments from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The site will operate Monday-Friday for at least the next several weeks.

David Boden, a volunteer with CORE, said the nonprofit, founded by actor Sean Penn, has operated about a half-dozen sites in southern California. The center will offer both drive-through and walk-up service.

Tests are self-administered via an oral swab and those tested will be contacted by the testing company with results. State Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, a physician who helped arrange the testing site, said it will serve people with COVID-19 symptoms, health workers, first responders as well as asymptomatic food service workers.

“Offering it to asymptomatic food service workers is a big step forward and very timely for Georgia,” Newton said. Restaurants were permitted to open Monday by Gov. Brian Kemp for dine-in service, with restrictions.

People meeting the testing criteria can seek an appointment at https://atlanta.curativeinc.com/welcome.

Workers who are sick are not permitted to return to work, under the new restaurant rules, but it’s also known that asymptomatic people carry the virus. Newton said that this center will help food workers know if they have the virus, even if they show no signs, offering assurance to their employers, co-workers and patrons.

Public health experts say as the economy reopens, regular COVID-19 testing will be required to help mitigate spread.

Boden said CORE will also work with Project South to open other testing sites in the Atlanta area.

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