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National Guard assists with new local COVID-19 test sites

National guard testing site mason
Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 11, 2022

CINCINNATI — The Ohio National Guard operated two new drive-thru testing sites in the Tri-State area on Tuesday as rising COVID-19 cases strain existing testing resources.

The two sites opened at Crossroads Church in Mason and on UC Health’s Clifton Campus. Throughout Tuesday, lines remained low at the Mason location.

“I just pulled in two minutes ago and came straight over here,” said Marc Rile, who came to get tested. “Hopefully out of here in five minutes.”

Tests have become difficult to obtain amid a COVID-19 case spike this month. At-home tests are difficult to buy and lines at drive-through test sites have left many Cincinnatians waiting in line for hours.

“Places like this are really helping out,” said Jerry Jones, who got tested in Mason.

It’s a need that has skyrocketed in the Tri-State, as nearly one in three COVID-19 tests comes back positive, according to Health Collaborative data.

“Whatever the people need, the government needs, we just get it done,” said Lt. Phillip O'Neal with the Ohio National Guard. "It's rewarding, because you know, people are in need."

He said he learned how to operate testing over the weekend.

The testing site comes at a time when hospitalizations in the Tri-State region are at an all-time high, with most COVID-19 wards at area hospitals full and ICUs strapped.

“The hospitals are bracing right now to prepare for a very significant surge,” said Tiffany Mattingly, vice president of clinical strategies at the Health Collaborative.

Mattingly said she hopes people take advantage of these new testing sites instead of relying on hospitals to get tested. She said those seeking testing should not go to the hospital unless they need medical care.

“EDs (emergency departments) are just getting overrun with patients, not only coming in with COVID symptoms and other symptoms, but coming in for COVID testing,” she said. “So this is really to help decompress our emergency departments.”

Testing is available at Crossroads Mason from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments can be scheduled on ethos-labs.com.

The UC Health site is located at the former UC Health MRI Center, 321 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH 45229. Appointments are required. Tests may be scheduled through My UC Health or by calling 513-41VIRUS (513-418-4787).

The site will be open between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, January 12. After that, the testing site will be open 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

The Health Collaborative said the Ohio National Guard may open additional testing sites in the coming days.