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Free COVID-19 testing planned for Piedmont as local cases resume rise

Ag Center testing

Using a long swab, a nurse tests an occupant of a vehicle in May during COVID-19 testing at the Calhoun County Agricultural Center on the Bynum-Leatherwood Road. 

Local officials plan to offer free drive-in screening for COVID-19 in Piedmont this week.

The testing, to be held Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Piedmont Sports Complex, comes as the county is seeing an uptick in new cases of the virus.

“We know that COVID is not going away,” said Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency director Michael Barton. “We need to encourage people to do all they can to continue to stay safe.”

Calhoun County had 165 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday morning. That's an increase of 18 cases in the past seven days, with eight of those cases emerging on Sunday alone.

Two weeks ago, spread of the virus seemed to have slowed to a near-standstill, with only nine new cases reported in one week and the coronavirus ward at Regional Medical Center temporarily free of patients.

Still, the virus does continue to spread. Statewide, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, the 14-day average of new cases continued to rise through May, with a sharp upswing Memorial Day weekend. State officials have been loosening the restrictions of statewide public health orders, previously intended to slow the spread of the virus, since the beginning of May.

Barton said an increase in new infections was to be expected as the state opens back up. He said the real concern for local officials is local hospital capacity, and keeping the number of new cases low enough that hospitals aren't overwhelmed.

The Thursday testing is free and open to anyone without a doctor's referral. Results are typically available in three to five days. 

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.