The Massillon Health Department distributes nearly 300 COVID-19 test kits.

MASSILLON – It didn’t take long for city health workers to hand out hundreds of COVID-19 test kits on Wednesday morning.

A total of 294 COVID-19 self-test kits came out of shipping boxes via health workers into the hands of motorists during a giveaway in the agency’s parking lot, 111 Tremont Ave. SW.

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“We missed about 35 minutes,” said Bethany Perkowski, director of environmental health for Massillon, moments after the event ended. “I hope we have another present next week.”

Test kits have been flying off store shelves across Stark County amid a record increase in COVID cases.

Perkowski and Audrey Sylvester, director of nursing at the Department of Health, turned back dozens of additional motorists for at least 20 minutes after failing COVID tests at around 9:20 a.m.

Bethany Perkowski, director of environmental health at the Massillon health department, is leading traffic Wednesday morning so motorists can safely enter the agency's parking lot for COVID-19 test kits.

The omicron variant has helped cause an increase in COVID-19 cases locally and nationally, leading to higher demand for testing for the virus, according to Sylvester, adding that the Christmas and New Years holidays have also sparked more of interest in test kits.

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“We get what the state sends us,” Sylvester said. “We typically ask for 500 (kits per shipment) and typically get around 250.”

Ohio health officials reported on Wednesday that there were 20,320 new cases of COVID-19 statewide.

Several driving events organized in Massillon

Massillon’s health department has run five test kits, drive-thru events over the past few months from its parking lot, Perkowski said.

She encouraged people to frequently check the Department of Health’s Facebook page for an announcement on the upcoming COVID-19 test kit giveaway.

Additionally, residents can also receive a Nixle SMS alert regarding the next event. To receive alerts, send MASSILLON by SMS to 888777.

Need a COVID-19 vaccine?

The Massillon Health Department continues to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments for city residents.

Call the agency at 330-830-1710 to make an appointment or to inquire about walk-in vaccinations.

Contact Steven at [email protected]

On Twitter: @sgrazierINDE