Gay Atlanta church offers free walk-up coronavirus testing

Saint Mark United Methodist Church is doing its part to fight the pandemic by offering free walk-up coronavirus testing for the next two Tuesdays and possibly beyond.

The LGBTQ-friendly church partnered with the Fulton Board of Health, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and Los Angeles-based disaster relief group CORE Response to make it happen, according to Rev. Josh Noblitt.

“We just wanted to be of service to the community while our doors are closed right now for worship and other gathering,” he told Project Q Atlanta. “Saint Mark has been a community center for the LGBT community and Midtown community for a long time and we wanted to do something to help.”

Testing will take place this Tuesday and the following Tuesday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the church at 781 Peachtree Street. 

CORE Response staffers will be stationed outside the church to get contact information, do temperature checks and administer nasal swab tests.

“It’s basically five or six stations you go to and then you drop your test kit into a bag and they’ll send it in, and test results come back in three to four days,” Noblitt said. “They’re coming prepared to do at least 300 tests. And if they need to bring more, they can.”

The testing will continue beyond June 9 depending on the demand, according to Noblitt.

“If there’s a good response from the neighborhood community and it’s of value to folks, then we’ll make it available as long as it’s needed,” he said.

Fulton has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, with about 4,500 as of Monday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The county also has the highest number of hospitalizations (850) and deaths (235). Fulton has the 58th highest number of coronavirus cases per capita, with 414 cases per 100,000 people.

There are about 47,600 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, with 8,100 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths as of Monday.

Bars and nightclubs in Georgia were allowed to reopen Monday with limited capacity and only if they follow a list of 39 mandatory guidelines. Gov. Brian Kemp announced the move on May 28. He also extended the state’s public health emergency a third time to July 12.

Read more coverage of how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting LGBTQ Atlanta.

This story is made possible through a grant from Facebook Journalism Project's COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund.