Mesa slates free COVID tests, flu shots The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa slates free COVID tests, flu shots

Mesa slates free COVID tests, flu shots
Mesa
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By Jim Walsh
Tribune Staff Writer

Mesa residents can get free COVID-19 tests and flu shots next Saturday at various local schools in ZIP codes with a higher incidence of positive tests.

A new effort financed with federal pandemic relief funds, the Mesa Cares Healthy Community Program kicks off testing 9 a.m.-12 noon Sept. 19 at Longfellow Elementary School, 345 S. Hall,.

City Manager Chris Brady said the program grew out of a conversation he had with Mesa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis about the higher number of positive tests in 85201, 85202, 85203, 85204 and 85210.

Mesa firefighters and employees of Steward Healthcare, which operates Desert Vista Medical Center, will administer the program, he said, with test results available in about 48 hours.

Although the west and central Mesa neighborhoods have higher positive rates than other parts of the city, they are not necessarily out of line with other metrics around the state, Brady said.

Other sites for the test and flu shot clinics, all 9 a.m.-noon,  include: Sept. 26, Lincoln Elementary, 930 S. Sirrine; Oct. 3, Washington Elementary, 2260 W. Isabella Ave.; Oct. 10, Hughes Elementary, 630 N. Hunt Drive; and Oct. 17, Webster Elementary, 202 N. Sycamore.

“I think there is no better way for us to spend these funds, especially in ZIP codes with a higher number of positive tests,’’ Mayor John Giles said.

Councilman Dave Luna, a retired MPS educator, said the testing comes at a good time because “there’s anxiety in the schools about coming back.”

“This is a way to mitigate those concerns,’’ Luna said. “It also eases the anxiety of our teaching staff.’’

Councilwoman Jen Duff noted, “This helps us combat the disparity we have experienced during the pandemic with people of color.’’

Some of the area codes covered by the Mesa testing outreach program have significant minority populations.

In Arizona, 5,273 people have died from the COVID-19 virus, while the state has record 207,002 cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services web site.

DHS lists the demographics of COVID-19 cases as 30 percent Hispanic, 23 percent White and 34 percent unknown.

The good news has been a drop in hospitalization and a rate of positive test results dipped to 4 percent during the past three weeks.

In the ZIP codes selected by Mesa for the free testing and flu shots, there were 1,507 positive results in 85202, 1662 in 85201, 1089 in 85203, 2,299 in 85204 and 1,384 in 85210.

“The state has not been in a better position than it is today,’’ Gov. Doug Ducey said at a press conference on Thursday, but he continued to preach continued vigilance and use of precautions.

“We are not out of the woods on COVID-19. If we know anything about this virus, we know it’s unpredictable,’’ he said. ′

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