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Ft. Mitchell Hopes to Alleviate COVID Testing Traffic, Hires Public Works Director

Written by Michael Monks, LINK Media

The Ft. Mitchell city council met virtually on Monday night, citing COVID-19 cases and exposures among staff members.

During the meeting, council members listened to Police Chief Andrew Schierberg explain the traffic issues surrounding a COVID-19 testing site in the city.

Covington-based Gravity Diagnostics operates a drive-thru testing site Monday through Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. at a Royal Drive property owned by St. Elizabeth Healthcare (formerly home to Planning & Development Services of Kenton Co.).

Due to increased demand for COVID testing, cars are lining up at the site early, and traffic is spilling on to nearby streets, causing concern among neighbors.

The situation is similar in Covington where Gravity also operates a daily drive-thru testing site. That city announced on Monday that it was closing one block of a street and changing the entrance to the testing site in order to alleviate traffic concerns.

Now, Ft. Mitchell is working to do the same.

"We really haven't seen any major traffic issues until the past three weeks," Chief Schierberg said. "Right before Christmas we saw an increase in testing and the line stretched to Beechwood Road, split in both directions, and wreaked some havoc on the neighborhood."

Schierberg said that the police department reached out to Christ Hospital, which owns property nearby, and is allowing traffic to be directed there.

Meanwhile, the police department has officers on site to help with the flow of traffic. Schierberg noted that these officers are working "overtime details" in which the time is billed to Gravity Diagnostics, but it is still a stretch on police resources.

"We do rely on Lakeside Park and Crestview Hills and Ft. Wright (police) to supplement that," he said.

Brandicorp, the Bellevue based company redeveloping the former Drawbridge Inn site, also gave permission to the city to change the traffic pattern, starting Monday night, a move that Schierberg hopes also helps the situation.

The chief noted that before the site opened at 5 p.m. on Monday, he noticed that the parking lot was about three-quarters full at around 4:30. He said that about 350 tests are conducted there each night.

Gravity announced on Tuesday that its Ft. Mitchell site would be closed on Tuesday evening. Its Florence Mall testing site line will also be cut off at 7 p.m., though everyone in line would be tested, the company said.

Kentucky recorded its highest-ever weekly positive case count last week, and currently has its highest-ever positivity rate since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.

City hires new public works director

City council approved the hiring of Nick Tewes as public works director. He comes to the city from Kenton County Public Works.

Tewes said during the meeting that he worked for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet right out of high school and has been with the county for more than six years. "I'm passionate about roads, which sounds really dumb, but I just love it," he said. "I enjoy starting projects and seeing them through completion and making things better. It's just something I really enjoy doing."