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UPDATED: COVID test site set to open Tuesday at north Newton church
COVID test

COVINGTON, Ga. — A Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 testing supersite is scheduled to open Tuesday, Jan. 25, in north Newton County.

The Church Covington at 11975 Hwy. 142 North in Oxford will host the testing site beginning Tuesday, Jan. 25, with operating days and hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Daily lunch breaks for the staff are scheduled from 12:30 to 1 p.m., said GNR Health spokesperson Chad Wasdin.

Viral Solutions will operate the site and appointments are recommended, the company stated on its website. To register for testing, visit

The medical test provider also operates test supersites for the state health department in Stonecrest, Marietta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Wasdin said Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes worked to connect state public health department officials with The Church Covington Pastor Daryl Hooper — who then worked out the details of setting up the testing site.  

"(Health department officials) visited the site with Viral Solutions to make sure the flow would work for their operational needs, and then we agreed upon a start date," Wasdin said.

Viral Solutions operates all aspects of the site, from staffing and specimen collection to producing test results, he said. 

Insurance is not required but Viral Solutions may request the person's health insurance information to help with costs of the operation, Wasdin said. 

"If insurance does not cover the service, it will not result in a cost to the individual," he said. "If someone does not have proof of insurance, they will still be able to receive a test at no cost."

He said lines have been relatively short at other test sites compared to previous weeks as demand for testing has decreased and more test sites have opened.

Newton's testing supersite was selected following complaints from some public officials about the lack of a test site in the county. 

Banes said earlier this month the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments had contacted him about any potential sites for a testing facility. 

He said he had submitted the county-owned Gaither's at Myrtle Creek Farm in rural south Newton as a potential site because it was the only public facility that had enough space for the anticipated vehicle traffic.

The closest current mass test site to Newton County is Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers. 

Banes said in a statement, “COVID-19 continues to affect our families, businesses and community through the spread of this virus that has caused hundreds of deaths right here in Newton County." 

“I am so thankful for the Department of Public Health and all the work of the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments to bring this mass testing site to our community. This site will be critical to make Newton County residents informed if they have COVID-19 and prevent the spread around our community. 

"Please utilize this and all the resources available to work toward ending this pandemic,” Banes said.

The Church Covington is located on Georgia Hwy. 142 North about a half-mile north of City Pond Road. 

A total of 16,411 Newton County residents had been reported as having confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 339 deaths on Jan. 21, according to Georgia Department of Public Health records.

Newton County's confirmed case rate for the last two weeks was 1,425 per 100,000 population, which was below the statewide rate of 1,793 per 100,000 for the same time period.

Meanwhile, Newton County's seven-day moving average of confirmed cases has decreased from 176.9 from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2, to 93.3 from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21, the department reported.

Church at Covington
The Church Covington is at 11975 Hwy. 142 North in Oxford. - photo by Image courtesy of Google