UTICA, NY (WUTR-TV) — On Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, Utica residents had the chance to get tested for covid-19 for free. The New York Department of Health is working in conjunction with the Oneida County Health Department, Chobani, the City of Utica, and the Mohawk Valley Center for Refugees to help all community members to get tested with no insurance or appointment needed.
500 tests were available. It was a big turn out in the morning. “The first two hours it’s probably 3 or 4 times on what the previous was and that’s got a lot to create an awareness we created ads, we really tried to building an awareness,” says Peter McGuinness, President of Chobani. It’s an awareness to encourage people to get tested, including the refugee and immigrant population. Interpreters were there to provide assistance. “I think some communities feel left out and so this is a way to let the community to know we’re here, they can access services we want to keep them safe,” says Shelly Callahan, Executive Director of the Mohawk Valley Center for Refugees.
After getting tested, you’re able to walk away with some Chobani products. “We wanted to donate food and yogurt so that people could go home and have lunch and dinner and not have to prepare things as a nice little token as they left to have a good impression for them when they left. and we’re committed to continue it,” says McGuinness.
Callahan is hopeful more of these pop-up testing sites will open across the city. “We’ve put it in a neighborhood where I think lots of folks can walk here they might not be able to get to other places for testing and its not completely free in other places so I think it’s important in that way,” says Callahan.