Local filmmaker documents being tested for COVID-19 with hopes of educating others

Published: May. 17, 2020 at 8:32 PM CDT
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A local filmmaker, Lester Rowe, documented his experience getting tested for COVID-19 at the HealthCore Clinic's free testing site. He shared his video of Facebook in hopes it'd reach members of the African American community.

"I've known people personally who've caught it and went through a real hard time," Rowe said. "I know people whose family members have died in this."

Rowe used these stories to create a short film he produced, shot, and starred-in of a man diagnosed with COVID-19. He called the film

, he shared his own story of what it was like to be tested.

"I was nervous." Rowe said, "I was 100 percent nervous driving in there because I didn't know what to expect."

He was one of 787 people who drove to the WSU Metroplex to get tested COVID-19 when HealthCore Clinic launched their free drive-thru testing site.

"I saw the cars packed in there, and it just kind of felt like now I'm here, now it's like being on a rollercoaster. At some point, we're going to get on that ride, and we're going to get to the top, and at that point, I knew what was going on," described Rowe.

In the first week, about 60 percent or 475 of the people were white, and about 34 percent or 268 of the people were African American.

"Showing what this is like and how testing is just scary in general for anything. It doesn't matter what the test is, now we're in the midst of it, and I just want to be an example, that yeah, I'm scared to do this. I'm nervous to do this; I'm going to do it anyway." Rowe said.

He says for him, it's all about knowing if you're carrying the virus.

"Do something that I thought was responsible; I think everyone should do and not just be passive about it. A lot of my friends I told them I was getting it, the first thing they said was, "Oh, are you sick? Are you feeling a certain way?'" he said.

"Feeling sick or being asymptomatic are two different things. I can be sick and never feel sick, and I could spread it to someone who eventually ends up dying. I didn't want that on my conscience, so I wanted to be tested to be sure," said Rowe.

He's using this test as a way to evaluate if the measure he's been taking has kept himself safe or if more precautions were needed.

That's not the only reason he turned the camera on himself and hit 'record.'

"Show people, and most importantly, my African American community that this is something that's okay to do, to get it done, and let's be part of the solution," Rowe said.

Data shows African Americans are some of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in the U.S. and Kansas.

A report last week from the

placed Kansas last in the country because of COVID-19 deaths; the state had the most significant disparity of African Americans dying compared to their share of the population.

"I just wish there were more places and more access to that test," Rowe said. "I had to do it to tell all the people who I've been seeing; it's serious, it's serious. Take it serious."

He says once he gets his test results back, he'll share those too.

"What HealthCore did was a very pleasing and comfortable experience for me." Rowe said, "It was a very long line, and everybody was in good spirits. It was raining, but everyone was positive, and we're only talking about a handful of people that were conducting the tests for 100, 150 people within two hours."

HealthCore's free testing continues at the WSU Metroplex Monday through Friday at 2 p.m.