COVID Test Giveaway Lines Vehicles up to Southern Blvd.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – DeAngelo Grissett was first in line to receive a free allotment of COVID-19 rapid Binax tests early Wednesday morning.

He learned of the giveaway watching the 11 p.m. news the night before and was in line at the Covelli Centre by 12:45 a.m.

“I’m a former Marine. We don’t play,” Grissett said.

The giveaway organized by the Youngstown City Health District was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. By 5 a.m., cars were already snaking around the Covelli Centre parking lot, up front street and were lining up along Market Street.

As workers from the health district were getting the boxed tests ready to distribute, along with bottles of water and hand sanitizer, an officer with the Youngstown Police Department advised them traffic was backed up to the Interstate 680 off ramps and they had to get started early to get traffic moving. Grissett and the other early birds got their tests by 7:15 a.m.

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Gallery includes images of vehicles lined up around the Covelli Centre, along Front Street and down Market Street, as well as DeAngelo Grissett receiving tests from Health Commissioner Erin Bishop.

Shortly after distribution began, an officer on the scene advised The Business Journal that traffic was backed up to Southern Boulevard.

Having the tests on hand was important to Grissett whose brother, who works construction, had COVID-19 back in early 2020, he said. Knowing how easily the virus is spread, Grissett wanted to be able to test himself before visiting family.

“I think a lot of people don’t take it seriously,” Grissett said. “It’s important to protect our families and other Americans.”

Health district workers had 4,000 BinaxNow COVID-19 Antigen Self Tests to distribute – two tests per box. The first 1,000 vehicles were allotted four tests per vehicle.

It’s the second free test giveaway in as many weeks during the holidays. On Dec. 22, the health district distributed 3,000 tests in two hours to residents in a drive-thru fashion at Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center. Cars were backed up onto Martin Luther King Boulevard and along Wirt Street. Another 2,000 tests had been delivered to churches at that time throughout the city for residents unable to get to the drive-thru, said Erin Bishop, city health commissioner.

Rapid COVID tests were scarce earlier in the week. Demand had left shelves bare at area pharmacies and offices of county health districts nearly wiped out. Tuesday morning, a shipment of 36 tests had been delivered to the Boardman branch of the Public LIbrary of Youngstown and Mahoning County, reported Maggie Henderson, strategic communications officer, though they weren’t expected to last long.

Pharmacies, health districts and other distributors have placed orders for tests this week and are hopeful to have some in stock before New Year’s Eve.

Pictured at top: Vehicles snake through the Covelli Centre parking area and along Front Street for the COVID test giveaway Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.