Bellefontaine Neighbors starts free coronavirus testing after $10,000 donation

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BELLEFONTAINE NEIGHBORS, Mo. – As COVID-19 testing locations continue to pop up, there’s a push to make sure some of the hardest-hit areas aren’t left out. Bellefontaine Neighbors leaders found their own funding to provide the service free of charge for their residents.

“A lot of people are walking around with it and don’t even know they have it,” Mayor Tommie Pierson said.

When it comes to protecting the residents of Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mayor Pierson says he makes sure they are never left out.

That’s why when he went to go get free, no questions asked COVID-19 testing outside of his community, it made him wonder.

“I want this for Bellefontaine Neighbors,” he said. “I want them to be able to get a test at no cost and no questions asked.”

With no knowledge of when or if his community would get a piece of the $170 million in federal dollars given to St. Louis County, it’s left the mayor with no money and a dream.

What makes the need even greater is Bellefontaine is located in the 63136 zip code, or otherwise known to county health officials as one of the many hotspots of COVID-19.

The latest numbers show nearly 400 people have tested positive. It gets even more eye-opening when you factor in surrounding zip codes.

“If you take a dot and put it right in southeast Ferguson, everything within 10 minutes of that dot the people who live there live about 10 years less on average,” said Brian Hayes, Health and Home St. Louis.

Hayes says health disparities within north St. Louis County, especially in black people, is not a new revelation.

That’s why even though his group focuses on the Ferguson area, they’ve dipped in their pockets and are donating $10,000 to get the Bellefontaine testing location up and running.

“These are citizens that are not getting the same access to healthcare like other parts of St. Louis,” Hayes said. “So, this falls directly in line with what our program wants to do.”

As detection is key in the spread of the coronavirus, it appears every community wants to make sure getting tested poses the least amount of issues.

“At least we can get a grip on it if we know where it is,” Mayor Pierson said.

The testing will be happening Monday thru Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

That’ll all be starting on June 12 until June 30 at the Bellefontaine Neighbors Community Center.

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