New COVID-19 testing site for Monroe County looks to launch in late October

A press release issued by Monroe County’s health department on Thursday announced the planned opening, later this month, of a new COVID-19 testing site for the county.

The new site will be housed in an IU Health building across the B-Line trail from the Seminary Park Kroger.

The new site, with a capacity of around 200 tests a day, will fill the gap that’s left when the current OptumServe site at the National Guard Armory is decommissioned. According to the press release, since the OptumServe site was set up in May, through a contract with Indiana Department of Health, more than around 21,000 tests have been done at the site.

The new site is supposed to operate through June 2021.

The new site is a five-way local partnership between Monroe County’s board of health, board of commissioners, Indiana University Health Bloomington, Indiana University, and the city of Bloomington.

The state’s department of health could be counted as a sixth partner, because it’s providing $200,000 worth of grant funding for the site. Under the state’s program, $100,000 per testing site is being provided. But according to Monroe County health administrator Penny Caudill, that’s based on an assumption of around 100 tests per day. The capacity of Monroe County’s planned testing site will be around double that, which accounts for the $200,000 grant.

The county’s three-member county board of commissioners met at noon on Friday, in a session continued from its regular Wednesday morning, to approve the lease agreement with IU Health and the acceptance of the state grant.

Bloomington and Monroe County are contributing $100,000 apiece toward the testing center. Based on remarks made by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, and the president of the county’s board of commissioners, Julie Thomas, the local money will be drawn from funding made available through the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). Thomas said the county is also applying to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses.

IU Health is providing in-kind support, by covering operational expenses for the test site. IU Health is also providing the space at at 640 S. Morton at a “well below market rate” for the facility, according to Monroe County attorney Jeff Cockerill.

Under terms of the lease, the monthly rental for the 6,377-square-foot space will be $3,188.50.

According to Lesley Snyder, who’s chief of staff for Indiana University Health’s South Central division, the site was home of the former linen service, and has been used as a warehouse the last few years.

The budget for the testing site includes the construction of an ADA-compliant ramp.