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Community, businesses step up to slow the spread of COVID-19 through testing, masks

Masks are now required in public in North Carolina following a mandate issued by Governor Cooper last week.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Community groups and businesses are working to slow the spread of COVID-19 through free testing and mask giveaways.

On Tuesday, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Benjamin Franklin Plumbing hosted two events in Charlotte to give away 2,500 free masks to anyone who needed one.

“If the community can’t afford to buy a mask, we want to make sure that we are doing our part to help get them what they need if they can’t afford it,” said Tammy Kravitz, marketing manager for One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and On-Time Electrical.

Masks are now required in public in North Carolina following a mandate issued by Governor Cooper last week.

People could walk or drive up to receive a free mask from the booth the companies set up.

Hary Acharya said it has been hard to find masks, and he came out to get some for his family members.

“I just want to get that for the coronavirus,” Acharya said. “I don’t have nothing, so I just want to get some so I just saw on the board there’s like free masks.”

Across town, Carolina Therapeutic Services First & MCI Diagnostics Laboratory, in partnership with Boom Car Wash, set up a free COVID-19 testing site along Beatties Ford Road.

RELATED: North Carolina health officials launch testing initiative for nursing homes

“We wanted to come on the corner, and meet the community that needs the testing the most, the uninsured, the people that are not aware of where to go to get testing and let them know how easy it is to get tested,” said Terese Hutchison, CEO and owner of Carolina Therapeutics Services First and The Dooby Shop School of Cosmetology.

Black and Hispanic populations make up 52.6% of the positive COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County, according to the latest data.

Hutchison said she wanted to host this free testing event to ensure those who need testing the most have access to it.

“I think a lot more people need to go into the neighborhoods,” Hutchison said. “We’ve been getting people at the bus stop, ‘I want to get a test done before the bus comes,’ that otherwise, these people would not go into a hospital or a doctor’s appointment to get testing done.”

A few feet away from the testing location is the site of a block party last week where dozens of people gathered. The incident left four people dead and 10 others hurt.

RELATED: These states require face masks be worn in public

Hutchison said she hoped the testing event reached those who have been part of large gatherings recently.  

“No one’s making anyone aware that COVID is still here,” Hutchison said, “so I wanted to come right in the community where a lot of these gatherings are going on as well to let them know that you still need to get tested.”

Hutchison said there is no charge for testing for those without insurance. If a person has insurance, she said the insurance will be billed for the lab work, but there is no copay.

She added, “It only takes 10 seconds that could save someone’s life.”

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