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As COVID-19 cases grow in DeKalb, church looks to reverse trend by offering free testing

Testing will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County's COVID-19 cases have stayed relatively steady for the first couple of months, but in the past few weeks, those numbers started climbing.

As of Thursday, the Georgia Department of Public Health has recorded 9,165 confirmed cases in DeKalb since the pandemic began, it is the third highest rate of infection in our state.

"We have not had access to care or to testing," Senior Pastor Jamal Bryant with New Birth Ministry Baptist Church said. 

He's working to change that by partnering with a laboratory to offer free testing on Saturday. 

He says it's crucial in a county where African Americans make up more than half of the population. CDC data shows minorities are more likely to be infected due to long-standing systemic health and social inequities. 

So far the church has helped get at least 6,000 people tested -- free of charge.

He said he doesn't agree with the state reopening so soon and believes we should be mandated to wear masks. 

Bryant uses New York as an example of how a mask mandate and tougher restrictions can help reduce cases over time. The state went from a hot spot early in the pandemic, to now avoiding surges, seen in other states like Georiga.

This Saturday, New Birth is hoping to test another 4,000 people. It is open to anyone in the metro area. In addition to free testing, they will also provide bags of groceries to any families who need it. 

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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