Food service workers heavily represented at Milford testing

MILFORD — Dozens of cars lined up in Milford High School’s parking lot Friday morning for free drive-thru COVID-19 testing via oral swabs.

Many being tested were food service workers who drove from other towns and had been tested before.

Jacob Herold, a specialist with the National Guard, said that 500 people had registered to be tested at the event and that several hundred more were expected to show up without appointments.

“We kind of worked as we went to figure out the best way to manage these sites,” Mr. Herold said, “especially when we have a lot of people.”

Participants were happy the testing was free of charge.

“With the medical costs and all that, I’m definitely looking for something free right now, because I’m doing it as much as I can,” said Jocelyn Ellis of Millsboro, who is employed as a server at the Sunset Deck restaurant in Dewey Beach.

Although the testing rate in the resort-centric ZIP code where she works was 3,769.7 tests per 10,000 residents, according to the Delaware Department of Health’s My Healthy Community Portal, back in Millsboro, the rate was just 2,078.8 tests per 10,000 residents.

Ms. Ellis found out about Friday’s free drive-thru testing from a newsletter she got at work, where she said her boss encourages her to be tested regularly.

“Most of the people in the industry are following all of the guidelines and making sure if someone goes in sick, they go and get tested,” said MacKenzie Smith of Lewes, who works at Finn’s Ale House & Raw Bar in Rehoboth Beach. “They follow all the procedures within the restaurant itself to stay as safe as possible.”

Ms. Smith said her testing experience in Milford, which only took about three minutes, was simpler and faster than her last one.

“It was honestly very quick and easy,” she said. “I went to the one in Rehoboth about two or three weeks ago, and it took me about an hour to get through the line, and then, it took me about a week to get my results.”

Ms. Smith believed that although Delaware’s increased testing capacity was a good thing, the state needed to do a better job of processing the tests, so the results could be sent out in a more timely fashion.

Tatiyana Harris of Bowers Beach decided to get tested because she had a sore throat.

“This is my second time going to get tested,” she said. “It was easy. I remembered what to do.”

She thought she may have been exposed to the coronavirus at her job.

“I work at Dunkin’ Donuts, so I see a lot of customers in the drive-thru that don’t wear masks like every single day because they’re not required to,” she said. “Since I interact with so many strangers every single day, I just thought it would be smart to go get tested.”

Her mother, Kisha Obey, was happy with Delaware’s response to the virus.

“I think it’s been very data-driven, and I feel grateful to be in Delaware as opposed to a state where there’s no science-based leadership going on,” she said. “I wish the whole country was operating the way Delaware is.”

But Smith and Ellis, who have been on the front lines of the virus at work for weeks now, thought the push to re-open bars and restaurants relatively early may have been premature.

“I do think they opened up too early. I wish they waited a little bit, just because we’ve already seen a little bit of a second surge,” Ms. Smith said.

Ms. Ellis thought the state’s coronavirus regulations needed to be stricter.

“I think we kind of let loose for a little while and that probably wasn’t the best idea,” she said. “I also went out to the bar a few times as they opened, but I’m starting to realize that we need to get on top of this.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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