UPDATE: Weekend COVID-19 testing at New Birth church postponed

Jamal Bryant
Jamal Bryant

UPDATED: A day after New Birth Missionary Baptist Church announced plans to hold drive-thru coronavirus testing, the church has postponed the event.

The church cited Gov. Brian Kemp’s statewide shelter-in-place order that is expected to go into effect Friday.

“To remain compliant with Governor Brian Kemp's executive order, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and various medical partners will postpone the COVID-19 testing scheduled for this weekend,” the church said in a statement. “We look forward to coordinating with our local and state officials to support flattening the curve in Georgia and helping to heal our nation and our world from this global pandemic.”

The Stonecrest megachurch said New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Texas-based RoweDocs  planned to provide drive-thru coronavirus testing for 1,000 people this weekend on the church’s Stonecrest campus.

The testing was planned to be split evenly over Saturday and Sunday and those tested should know the results in about 24 hours.

Senior Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant said many churches are no longer doing in-person worship services, however he felt that while “the building is closed, the vision has to keep going on.”

That vision includes looking out for the well-being of the community.

He said the church planned to transform its parking lot into a mobile health clinic.

This initiative began, said Bryant, when he was approached by a Florida lab that wanted to partner with New Birth to provide test kits. Other partners include health professionals around the metro area.

The spread of the pandemic is forcing churches to “live out loud and do what we’re called to do, which is to provide a service.”

Here’s how it was to happen: Those interested in participating were to register in advance and go through a medical pre-screening before the onsite test can be administered.

Pre-screening was to be performed by RoweDocs costs $25 with COVID-19 testing fees at $125. People should check with their insurer.

Established in 2014, RoweDocs is African-American owned telemedicine company.

Bryant  said there are so many people of color  living on the margins without adequate access to health services or little or no health issues, that this was the right thing to do.

When it comes to testing, these people are “pretty low on the totem pole.”

Priority was to be given to those who are displaying symptoms,  at-risk older people and people with compromised immune systems, then the larger community.