By Ashley Banks
Project H.O.O.D, a 501 c (3) organization located at 6330 S. Martin Luther King Drive hosted a two-day free COVID-19 testing event on Friday, June 12, and Saturday, June 13. Over 150 people participated in the testing; test results were given within 15 minutes. Participants were also provided with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, lotion and mints.
Those participants testing positive were referred to a doctor; if test results were negative, information was given on how to protect participants from developing COVID-19.
Participants at the event gave positive feedback. Regina Nisby, a member of New Beginnings Church, praised the event saying, “Today was great. It was awesome. It was worth it. It was stress-free and I’m glad I came.”
The type of testing used was serological testing.
According to the CDC.gov serological testing is “an antibody test that looks for antibodies, which are specific proteins made in response to infections Antibody test results are especially important for detecting previous infections in people who had few or no symptoms.”
Dr. Kelli Gills, a surgical resident at Grady Health System in Atlanta, and a Morehouse School of Medicine graduate, where she studied general surgery, says the motivation for the event was to get testing to the community. Gills, who grew up near 63rd and Cottage Grove, explained, “We’re taking the initiative to flatten the curve by testing people.”
With a goal to test a hundred people per day, on the first day, Friday, over one hundred people were tested. On Saturday, fewer than one hundred took the test.
Pastor Corey Brooks, founder of New Beginnings Church, commented that the turnout may have been due to the sharing of information via social media sites, radio interviews, constant contacts, influencers, and email communication.
Brooks, in an interview spoke with the Crusader to share his view of why the event was created. “This event was born because 70 percent of deaths in Cook County with the Coronavirus are African American. There’s such a great need for our community to be tested.” Brooks noted that people are not taking COVID-19 as seriously as they should and discussed how fear born of historical misuse of testing on Blacks, plays a part in the Black community not wanting to test.
He further discussed the methods to decrease COVID-19 cases, which are proper social distancing, wearing a mask, masks being available, and practicing CDC guidelines.
When asked if there was an increase of COVID-19 cases in his congregation, he told the Crusader, “There’s been an increase. In the beginning, there were few cases and over time the number of cases went up; some more severe than others.”
According to dhp.illinois.gov, 5,765 people have been tested; 565 positive cases have been confirmed and no deaths have been reported in the 60637 zip code. Fortune magazine, on June 12, reported Illinois has the largest decrease in new COVID-19 cases.
Project H.O.O.D is involved with the community in positive ways. The organization collaborates with other organizations and businesses to bring about change. Events such as COVID-19 testing, food giveaways and violence prevention are planned for the near future. Currently there’s a team, which receives pay and insurance to combat violence.
Brooks spoke on the topic of violence saying, “There’s a lot of frustration due to economics. People have lost their jobs, no means to take care of their families.
Economic pressures bring anger and hostility especially toward one another. Social media also has an influence.”
Two solutions Brooks provided in reference to combating violence, is for more churches to involve themselves with their communities and intervening in conflicts before a shooting or death occurs.
The next event, a food giveaway on June 20, at New Beginnings Church, 6620 S. King Drive, aims to help feed those in need. The goal is to feed five thousand families.