Editorial: COVID-19 testing is available if you have symptoms, please take advantage of it

With the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths associated with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to rise in the state — with deaths now nearing 1,100 — state officials are imploring Georgians to schedule an appointment at a testing location if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

“We have the tests, we have the physicians, we have the sites, and we have the bandwidth,” Gov. Brian Kemp said during a briefing on Monday. “What we need now is more Georgians to participate. Right now, all symptomatic Georgians can take advantage of this resource, and I'm calling on anyone who is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to take us up on this offer.”

The good news locally is that the Whitfield County Health Department at 800 Professional Blvd. in Dalton is hosting free drive-thru testing for people who believe they have symptoms from COVID-19, such as fever, cough and sore throat. The testing is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. To set up an appointment, call (888) 881-1474.

“Now is the time. We have the availability, we want to provide this opportunity to everyone who wants to test in Georgia and has even mild symptoms,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “It’s quite a change from when we first started we were only restrictive to the most severe symptoms and even hospitalized patients.”

It is important for health officials to have as much information as possible in dealing with the coronavirus, and testing is considered a key both here and nationally as health and governmental officials try to determine how best to combat and deal with the virus.

“We hope that we can encourage people to be tested,” Toomey said. “This will give us the best opportunity to prevent the spread of the disease by identifying cases as early as possible.”

We strongly encourage our readers to take advantage of this free testing if you have the symptoms, and the sooner, the better. Research about the coronavirus is ongoing, with new revelations seemingly daily as doctors and others continue to learn about the virus. The more accurate the numbers of those infected, the better off our health and public officials will be as they try to guide us through this difficult time, and as we all search for a way forward that makes sense for both our physical and economic health.

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