With New York’s help, Savannah opens coronavirus testing site in ‘highly-impacted’ area

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A temporary testing site in one of Savannah’s coronavirus hot-spots is close to operating at full-speed. Officials say a partnership with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo helped them open the site at Kingdom Life Christian Church on Wednesday.

“People can say what they want to…the bottom line: Savannah is better because of this partnership,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson during a visit to the site.

Gesturing to dozens of boxes of personal protective equipment, Mayor Johnson says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo donated everything after proposing the partnership late last week. The city is still determining where 165 thousand pieces of PPE should go.

Staff and resources from New York’s SOMOS Community Care and Norwell Health say they hope to administer hundreds of tests each day.

“This is to amplify the efforts of the Coastal Health District,” explained Mayor Johnson. “This allows us to compliment those effots by being in neighborhoods, in houses of faith where people can walk up and be tested.”

Officials at the site tell News 3 test results can come back in two to three business days. Testing kits and supplies have been donated by the two healthcare facilities.

Long Island native and Registered Nurse Chris Haggarty says he volunteered to make trip down south. He is part of a team of 20 who can test up to 500 people each day, according to city officials.

“I wanted to come down here and help some people out,” he explained.

The city says it chose the Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship Church because it is located in a “highly-impacted minority community.” According to data from the Coastal Health District, the southside church is in a zip code with the third-highest number of coronavirus cases (31406).

“The virus went through New York and it caused a lot of a lot of damage,” said Haggarty. “It was hell-ish for two months at our sites at Northwell on Long Island. And if we can avoid the spread of the virus down here in Savannah, that would be great.”

Haggarty and his team will continue to test at the church until Sunday. After that, they will move to Temple of Glory Community Church. The mayor says — after some evaluation — there is a possibility the city will add more temporary testing sites.

Walk-ins and appointments are both acceptable.

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