Ezekiel Elliott

On Tuesday morning, a new drive-through testing site will open in Ferguson at 800 Chambers Rd. It is being fully funded through the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s family foundation. Testing is free.

“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now,’” said Donnell “Malik” Sims, entity administrator, Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis. 

“The African-American community is being affected worse than any other community by COVID-19, and we are addressing that need in an African-American community that’s been rife with disparities for years.”

The foundation is working in collaboration with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, the City of Ferguson and other local officials.

Dr. Mahrukh Khan, a family medicine physician with her own private practice and one of the foundation’s members, will run the testing site. She will also treat and care for patients who are infected with COVID-19 and don’t have access to a doctor or health insurance. 

Ezekiel Elliott is an Alton native and Dallas Cowboys running back who was a football star at John Burroughs School; his family is active with the Islamic Foundation.

The test site will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. People must call for an appointment and preliminary screening at 314-735-0220. This is also the number for the HomeSafe1st App, which was designed jointly by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner’s Office and Amazon Web Services. 

Gardner rolled out the app on April 2 as a way for St. Louis residents to self-report their symptoms and seek appropriate medical attention. When people fill out the online questions through the app or call the number, they will be connected with a volunteer from the Islamic Foundation. 

The app is meant to supplement other support lines that may get bogged down during the outbreak, including the city and county COVID-19 hotlines and hospitals, Sims said. 

Becky Sims (not related to Malik Sims) used the app because she was concerned about her 73-year-old mother, who had tested positive for COVID-19 and was released from the hospital to recover at home. Over the period of three days, her mother’s health seemed to deteriorate and her breathing became more labored. 

“We were afraid,” Becky Sims said.

This is a case where the app worked “on multiple levels,” said Dr. Khaldoun Elzoobi, a volunteer for the program and who spoke with the family. Dr. Elzoobi told the family to take her back to the hospital immediately.

“When the hospital doctor says, ‘You’re fine, wait,’ for how long do you wait?” Dr. Elzoobi said. “I believe had she not called the volunteers and not gotten the quick response, she may have deteriorated much worse. If a doctor takes a call, there’s a force of someone in the medical field telling them, ‘This is really serious and you need to be seen.” 

For more information about testing, call 314-735-0220 or complete the Health Report Form on the HomeSafe1st App.

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