Free COVID-19 testing will end in Northwest Georgia

Patrick Filbin, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
·2 min read

Feb. 24—The Northwest Georgia Health District and its 10 county health departments will stop offering free COVID-19 testing on Feb. 25 and shift most of its resources to administering COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Gary Voccio, health director for the Northwest Georgia Health District, said the district has been shifting more of its limited resources to the vaccinations, and while it anticipates an increase in supply, the county health departments will focus on immunizations.

The district includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Gordon and Walker counties.

"There are now other sources in our Northwest Georgia communities for these tests," Voccio said in a news release. "Although cases and hospitalizations are currently declining, we're not out of the woods yet. We continue to see community transmission of the coronavirus, new cases and, unfortunately, COVID deaths still occurring."

Over the course of nearly a year, the health district has conducted more than 150,000 diagnostic tests since opening the first free testing sites in Bartow and Floyd counties. At one time, the health district was providing free testing in all 10 of its counties six days a week.

Voccio added the focus on vaccines will allow the district to administer more to eligible residents wanting to make appointments and get vaccinated. He also said the vaccine supply in Northwest Georgia is still "erratic and inadequate to meet demand" but he anticipates delivery and availability to improve over time.

"The immunization program is going to be a marathon, not a sprint," he said, "and vaccines are eventually going to be available from a variety of providers, not just public health."

For more information on the change, vaccine information and where to get tested now and after Feb. 25, visit nwgapublichealth.org.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.