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Health officials preparing for COVID-19 surge in the fall

Health officials are hoping a new rapid test being distributed in the state can help them intervene

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, warned that we appear to be at the start of a resurgence of COVID-19. Now officials are hoping a new rapid test being distributed in the state can help them intervene.  

Wednesday marks the 9th day in a row that Pennsylvania has seen more than a thousand new cases of COVID-19. 

"We believe that we are at the start of the fall resurgence," Dr. Levine said.

It’s a resurgence that Dr. Levine said the State has been preparing for. Health officials touted an increase contact tracing efforts, as well as nearly 300,000 users of the newly launched COVID Alert PA app. And on Wednesday, a new tool in the fight was announced. 

"The Federal Government is allocating 150-million antigen rapid tests," Michael Huff, Testing and Contact Tracing Director, said. 

The tests, which are able to detect antigens on the surface of the virus, will produce results in just 15 minutes. 

"Although we are able to produce test results in 24 to 48 hours, near immediate test results would allow us to intervene even more quickly, to protect these vulnerable individuals," COVID-19 Response Director, Dr. Wendy Braund, said. "And these antigen test cards would do just that.” 

The first allotment of 250,000 test kits were distributed this week in Bradford, Centre, Lebanon, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Snyder Counties. Additional shipments will continue every week through December, targeting vulnerable populations like assisted living and long-term care facilities, school students and employees, drug, alcohol, and behavioral health treatment centers, and healthcare providers. 

"This pandemic of COVID-19 has certainly taught us that we are all in this together, and we are all interconnected," Dr. Levine said. "And we must stand united in stopping the spread of COVID-19.” 

Health officials also announced they will be submitting the State’s plan to the CDC this week for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available. 

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