Gwinnett County is the most diverse county in the Southeast, with large Hispanic and Asian populations. I asked Chad Wasdin, Communications Director of the Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale Counties Health Department, about what resources are available for local communities amid the surge.
What testing sites are open in Gwinnett? Where and when? Are there interpreters available on site?
Our Health Department is working with a third-party, Mako Medical Laboratories, to provide testing at our Gwinnett Place Mall location. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 5pm (M-F) and 8am to 12pm (Saturdays). No appointments are necessary; however, pre-registration is strongly encouraged to improve throughput speed, available here: https://mako.exchange/scheduler/registration/?location=4016
Some staff at this location speak Spanish. Pre-registration is also available in Spanish.
Do you have a sense of how hospitals in Gwinnett County have been impacted?
Hospitals are currently experiencing surges in patients seeking care. The majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations are still attributable to unvaccinated individuals. Emergency Departments are also seeing a large influx of individuals seeking care.
One note: while wait times for testing may be long, we recommend individuals seek tests from community organizations over emergency departments (unless experiencing a medical emergency) to free up space for those with emergency issues.
Are there vaccination clinics open at the moment? Where are they and when can people come?
COVID-19 vaccines are easily accessible at our Lawrenceville and Norcross Health Center locations (M-F from 8a-5p) or at our Gwinnett Place Mall vaccination site (M-Sat 8a – 5p). No appointment is necessary. Walk-ins are welcome. The vaccine is free, and no identification is required.
Are there any in-language outreach initiatives aimed at specific communities?
We are working closely with Latino community leaders to strategize on how to continue addressing vaccine hesitancy in their communities. These are faith-based, business, medical and social leaders identifying community events and other avenues that we can leverage to reach into Spanish-speaking areas of our county.
Is there any other impact of Omicron that you're seeing, that you think is important for people to know about?
Vaccination is the only way out of this pandemic, but Omicron is showing us the importance of the boosters for those currently fully vaccinated. Anyone who is fully vaccinated (i.e. received two doses of the mRNA vaccines or one dose of the J&J vaccine) and is due for a booster should get it as soon as possible to provide more protection against Omicron and any subsequent variants.