Covid-19 Mobile Testing Clinic at Howard Park

It was held over the course of the end of last week and will run from Wednesday to Thursday of this week—with an interview by City Councilor Mary Deros, on-site

A worker sits within the building on the Liege side of the park, prepping people before the test, asking for necessary information

Walking into Howard Park at this point in the fall presents a certain contrast to where the park was during the summer. Although certainly lower than the numbers that the feasts offered in the park over the years, still, many people showed up for events all summer long to celebrate, in spite of the pandemic.

The park in October

On the first weekend of October, however, the park was essentially deserted. A few children played with their parents off to the side, sitting on benches, the leaves blew atop the grass and pathways as I walked towards the Liege side of the Park … oh yeah, and there was a free testing clinic for Covid-19 … but at first glance, you wouldn’t have known it. If it wasn’t for the red tent that lay beside and in front of the park’s building there, you wouldn’t have known.

Word of mouth

Relying on word of mouth these days takes a wee bit of technology, as it were, so I originally found out about the test clinic online, as I keep my ear close to the ground and these days, the internet is as close to the proverbial ground as you can get. But I was also alerted by City Councilor Mary Deros a few days later. She mentioned that she would be going to the clinic and if I’d stop by, we could have a chat.

The clinic which had started the Friday before I went in, which was on the Saturday, had only 40 people show up to get tested. It had rained, and Mary Deros had asked for the red tent I had spied upon entering the park—that they place it for those going to get tested.

The day in question, Saturday, the 3rd, apparently only one person had shown up to be tested when I got there. As I snapped pictures of the park and nurses stationed under the tent, a few handfuls of others showed up.

How it works

I spoke to nurses on site (all requested to remain nameless), and they told me that you didn’t need ID to get tested. All you needed to do was give your name, a phone number or email where the results could be delivered to you. The test itself was just under ten minutes. At the door, nurses and staff on-hand gave you a new mask to wear and then you were ushered into a back room where the test was performed, in either the mouth or the nose with a cotton swab. Then, patients or rather those being tested were ushered out the back door, urged to use the sanitizer placed there. It was as simple as that.

Why such a little turn-out?

The reasons for this can certainly be numerous, but perhaps it is fear that held people at home and not at the park. I spoke to a staff member that believed just this … she echoed the sentiment that perhaps it is test clinics like this that also spread Covid-19—not a fact—but a sentiment. She felt that the public probably feel that way, which certainly can account to the lower amount of people that shows up.

Another possibility is perhaps the fact that people just didn’t want to give up their Saturday. Many also voiced the possibility that the event didn’t reach as big a possible audience as was expected, even though the internet was used to promote.

A conversation with City Councilor Deros

City Councilor Mary Deros sits in wait as nurses on-site test her for Covid-19—the procedure lasted under 10 minutes

She stated that she was pleasantly surprised that 40 people showed up the day prior despite the rain. She had posted about the event, despite the fact that she too had been only notified about it the week before. She herself got tested at the clinic and she said that local businesses also posted about the event on their respective sites. She had heard that if you weren’t experiencing symptoms then perhaps you shouldn’t go in. She got tested as a precaution, as she was feeling a tad under the weather.

So, maybe in the end, it’s a good thing that people didn’t show up. Perhaps there are very few experiencing symptoms, but maybe that’s wishful thinking; perhaps we can all be a little guilty of that in the end and Peter John Cox / Richard P Drummie / Martin George Page (Go West) were right when they wrote the song.

We can only hope that one day soon, we’ll all be singing the lyrics: “I’ll get over you I know I will/ You made a hole in my heart …”

One can hope, can’t he?

Regardless, the test clinic will still be there this week … Wednesday, October 7th and Thursday, October 8th from 11AM to 7PM. So if you feel symptoms and you live in the area, stop on by and you’ll be done in a jiff.