KENDALLVILLE — Kendallville was lucky enough to get one of 50 new statewide COVID-19 testing sites. Now, Noble County Health Officer Dr. Terry Gaff is encouraging residents to use it.

If you’ve got symptoms — cough or fever or shortness of breath or sore throat or anything even remotely flu like — you should definitely get tested.

But even for people who are feeling good, Gaff wants people who can meet the really low bar to qualify for a test to get one.

With no cost and only the short discomfort of medical workers taking a deep swab in your nose, there’s little reason not to take advantage of the testing and the results can help local health officials get a better idea where COVID-19 is or isn’t.

Practicing what he preaches, Gaff said he got tested on Friday and is waiting for results.

The Community Learning Center received one of 50 OptumServe testing sites the state contracted to open. The center opened on Wednesday and is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Another site is in LaGrange and Angola has had a site open at the National Guard Armory since May 6.

“The thing is that they do not have to be symptomatic, and so I’m concerned that people are not utilizing this as aggressively, as much as I would hope,” Gaff said.

In order to get on the schedule for a test, people do need to take a short screening quiz either online at or by calling 888-634-1116.

It’s a screener, but the qualifications are very low. As long as you have at least one additional risk factor — which could be anything from being older than 65 years old or having diabetes, high blood pressure, a lung condition or even obesity — you’re likely to qualify, Gaff said.

The questionnaire does ask if you have health insurance and will take information, but the test is free so you should not have any charges.

Even if you’re asymptomatic, getting a test is beneficial, Gaff said. Either it will come back negative and you’ll have peace of mind or it will come back positive and then health officials can have you isolate and help identify any people you may have had close contact with to get them quarantined as well.

Doing so will cut off further transmission even among asymptomatic patients and help reduce the spread of the virus even further.

Just because you’re not symptomatic doesn’t mean you’re not contagious, so knowing if you have the virus even if you feel normal is still important.

“What I would really like is to make sure that people are aware of it and that as many people as possible get tested. The asymptomatic people are the people who are important to find out. We still have a number of cases out in the wild and we’d like to figure out who those people are,” Gaff said.

Noble County specifically has had a larger number of cases than its neighbors, although much — but not all — of the county’s cases have come from outbreaks in two nursing homes.

All of Noble County’s 20 deaths to date have been related to nursing home patients, Gaff said.

Identifying and cutting off any other modes of transmission from people who are carrying without knowing is going to go a long way to helping control coronavirus.

Testing was once limited to only people with serious symptoms, so people who were sick couldn’t get tested. That’s changed and now with testing available right in your backyard, Gaff said people should take advantage and find out their status.

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