Martinsville Speedway COVID-19 test site delayed due to lack of test kits

Local Martinsville hospital said it has enough supplies to meet the demand

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The opening of the COVID-19 testing site at the Martinsville Speedway is delayed because they don’t have test kits.

That’s just one update Southside leaders shared Wednesday afternoon about how they’re handling the virus.

The speedway will be a drive-thru test site in just a few days, where people can be tested without leaving their cars. They hoped to be opened by Monday, but Nancy Bell with the West Piedmont Health District said there’s one major hold up.

“We’ve scrambled at getting gowns, gloves and masks, and actually the health department is providing some of those. It’s just the test kits, and they’re on the way. We’re told there are 200 on the way," Bell said.

The Harvest Foundation stepped up, encouraging community partners to come up with a way to make it happen. The foundation is paying for the site. A doctor’s referral will be needed, and it will only be available to residents of Martinsville, Henry and Patrick counties.

Dale Alward is the CEO of Sovah Martinsville and said his hospital has tested a few patients. They have 16 ICU beds and unlike other hospitals, Alward said they have enough personal protective equipment to do the job.

“I’m not concerned about us having what we need today and the foreseeable future, to manage the folks that are coming through the door that require our help," Alward said.

First responders continue to be on the front lines of it all. Both Martinsville and Henry County said they’re preparing for one of their own to test positive, and prepared to respond to staffing issues if coworkers have to be out of work too because of quarantine.

“The potential of losing like maybe a third of our employees to this virus for several weeks, it is highly possible but we have tried to develop plans for that," Martinsville Emergency Management Coordinator John Turner said.

For essential employees, childcare is becoming scarce. In addition to funding the site, the Harvest Foundation is leading the charge to find people to watch little ones.

“A task force of non-profits and local government leaders were convened to discuss and brainstorm the ways the community can best address that need," Harvest Foundation impact officer Sheryl Agee said.

The foundation said they hope to have those plans announced soon.

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