Testing site for the most vulnerable focuses on funeral home workers in the black community

A COVID-19 testing site was set up at the Salem Baptist Church in Rosyln on Thursday, which was offered by the "Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium." They focused testing on people who work in black-owned funeral homes.

"Just want to make sure that we know what's happening in our community so we can take care," said Keith Hodges. He’s the funeral director at Beckett-Brown & Hodges. He got tested on Thursday.

"We have never seen anything like this Covid-19," said Hodges who points out that funeral homes deal with HIV/Aids, MRSA and things like Hepatitis C when handling the deceased. Hodges says they traditionally do 20 funerals a month but in April they did 48 and May looks to be the same. He estimates half of those were COVID related.

"This pandemic has really forced us and mandated us to make a paradigm shift to the way we think and the way we approach funeral service," said Hodges.

Dr. Ala Stanford says the Black Covid-19 Consortium began mobile testing in the black community on April 16th.

"After we didn't see a swift response to the disheartening information that African Americans were dying at higher rates," she said. Stanford says more than half the deaths in Pennsylvania are African Americans and people in nursing homes. Hodges lost his beautiful mother-in-law to the coronavirus while in a nursing home.

"Because a worker comes in with it. She goes to the hospital for 7 days on the ventilator and she dies alone," he said.

Stanford says African Americans didn't have access to testing like other communities at the onset of the virus and there were too many barriers. She's working to change that.

"To make sure that people who were not getting a fair shake got a fair shake," she said.


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