Gary seeks to ramp up COVID-19 testing as state-run screening drive-thru shuts down

GARY, Ind. (WLS) -- With the number of COVID-19 cases rising in Gary, city officials are continuing to advise residents to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus.

Kecia Evans said her mother, a longtime Gary resident, has been in the hospital with coronavirus since late last month. She's just days away from coming home.

Evans said her mom is a COVID-19 survivor.

"We prayed everyday," Evans said. "That's how we made it."

There have been 299 coronavirus cases and nine deaths in Gary.

The city's health commissioner, Dr. Roland Walker, tested positive, along with his parents. His mother remains in the hospital.

Dr. Walker said the city has not reached its peak.

"I think the best thing to do is be prepared, and that's why the mayor has pushed the field hospital recommendations so if the time comes when we need more assistance," Dr. Walker said.

One location that could be used as a field hospital is the Genesis Convention Center.

Testing is limited in the city, with only a few locations available and a state-run drive-thru site shutting down on Wednesday.

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince said they're working to increase their own testing capacity.

"From the state's perspective, they have told us on a number of occasions that they simply do not have the available testing to send to all the different communities," Prince said.

Rev. Marion Johnson, of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, said his congregation is struggling to adapt to this pandemic.

"Most of our individuals that come to church in the black neighborhoods, church is more like family than anything else, so they are losing the family connection," Johnson said.

After what Kecia Evans' mother has overcome, her loved ones are organizing a drive-by parade to celebrate her release from the hospital.

"She is talking. She is in her right mind, ready to come home," Evans said.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.