The Faith Leaders Church Initiative will be sponsoring Weekend COVID-19 Testing Sept. 19 – 21, 2020.  The purpose is to create access to testing to those that cannot get to the Monday – Friday COVID-19 testing sponsored by the Knox County Health Department.

The Faith Leaders Church Initiative has been convening a weekly conversation with faith leaders (pastors, lay leaders, health departments, health care professionals and others) since May 1, 2020.  The hosting leaders are Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie and Cynthia J. Finch, LMSW – Licensed Social Worker.  The main focus was to develop strategic guidance for church buildings to re-open.  But the group realized immediately, it wasn’t just about getting back into the building, it was a “holistic” approach of getting the churches to plan, prepare and pray together and return to some level of safe normal activities with church members.  The end results would be pastors and their members returning to church and being able to function through day-to-day activities with an informative level of knowledge about COVID-19 and its impact on the pandemic on the community.

Dr. Keith Gray, chief medical officer at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, has served as the medical professional expert for the group.  He has provided “wise, factual and timely” information about the pandemic crisis to the Faith Leaders.  “Testing is a large part of the puzzle, but being informed is the key to us saving the lives of our neighbors,” stated Dr. Gray.

A team led by Dr. Ken Taylor, Atlanta, GA and Genesis Reference Lab will provide an added value component, telemedicine, to the testing days.  This telemedicine model will address access to health care, tracking data and answer the questions, “So you are tested and you are positive, What Next? If you don’t have a primary care doctor, access or no insurance, what do you do?”

The Faith Leaders Church Initiative, with Dr. Taylor’s lead, have prepared a quick information sheet with resources available in the community.  The medical team will provide medical information and guidance as part of the testing and answers the “What’s Next?” question.

The weekend testing will occur at two locations:  September 19-20, 2020 – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 pm – Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church, 3800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Knoxville, TN (drive-thru and walk-ups) and September 21, 2020, East Knoxville Free Medical Clinic, located at Magnolia Ave. United Methodist Church, 2700 Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, TN. (walk-up only), 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  This will be a nasal swab testing.

Everyone is encouraged to come and get tested.