Free COVID-19 testing designed to be immigrant-friendly

This week there will be free COVID-19 testing offered in Brookhaven, but organizers have designed the test site to be friendly toward the immigrant community.

Gigi Pedraza is the Executive Director for Latino Community Fund, or LCF in Georgia. The organization says while testing is open to everyone, “we have designed it in a way and in an area that is heavily populated by immigrant populations.”

For example, Pedraza says, “a lot of people in our communities don’t have cars, so in the past in some of the other drive-thru only locations, [they] have restricted access to them.”

There will also be more than 40 volunteers able to speak 10 different languages. “They all live and work along Buford Highway,” says Pedraza.

LCF has been promoting the event through social media, with flyers in 6 different languages. Pedraza named a few examples of who they are targeting: “Southeast Asian communities, Asian communities, African communities, and of course Latina and Hispanic communities too.”

The LCF is working with Arthur Blank Foundation, CORE, the City of Brookhaven, the Latino Community Fund and We Love BuHi.

Pedraza says public health officials will be there to help with logistics, and the tests will come from an organization called CORE. They have thousands of COVID-19 tests to administer.

And this is not a nasal swab test, it will be a mouth swab test.

So what do you need to bring with you? Pedraza says nothing. “There is no social security or ID or residence requirement. You are just going to be asked to provide your name and a phone number, email or an address; wherever you want to receive your results.”

When asked about why immigrants may hesitate to get tested or seek medical help if they are sick, Pedraza says it’s likely because they don’t want the financial burden that comes with it. She says many may not be able to afford the fees. And it’s not just undocumented immigrants. Pedraza says this applied to mixed-status families and even permanent residents. For example, she says Georgia law states that permanent residents don’t’ qualify for Medicaid until they have lived here for at least 5 years.

If you’d like to get a test, no appointment is required.

It will be at 3292 Buford Highway NE in Brookhaven. The testing site will be open on May 14 and 15 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you are asked to register ahead of time so that organizers can take extra precautions when you arrive.