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Pennsylvania to expand free COVID-19 testing

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday announced an expansion of free coronavirus testing through pop-up clinics over the next 12 weeks.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday announced an expansion of free coronavirus testing through pop-up clinics over the next 12 weeks.

The clinics will run about a week each in 61 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

The six counties that won’t have the clinics—Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Erie, Montgomery and Philadelphia—all have their own health departments.

Sites will be able to test 450 people per day on a first-come, first-served basis. No appointment will be required, and tests will be free.

Any Pennsylvania resident is eligible to receive a test, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Turnaround time for tests is expected to be two to seven days.

The Department of Health extended a contract with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) to run the testing clinics. A federal ELC Enhancing Detection grant will fund the contract.

Gov. Wolf stressed, however, that testing had to be used along with other mitigation measures like social distancing and mask wearing.

“Testing is a critical tool in the fight against COVID. But we need to pair it with effective case investigations, contact tracing and mitigation measures to prevent the spread of this virus,” Gov. Wolf said.

Testing will show where outbreaks are happening, Gov. Wolf said, allowing resources to go where they’re most needed and make further mitigation measures more strategic than last spring’s statewide lockdown.

“It’s more focused. It’s more laser-like, it’s not as broad-based, not as draconian,” Wolf said.

The expanded testing comes after Pennsylvania’s worst month yet in terms of new COVID-19 cases. The state averaged about 5,200 cases per day in November, versus about 1,640 cases per day in October.

“We’ve seen a rapid increase of positive case counts reaching record high levels, which gives us significant cause for concern,” said Michael Huff, Pennsylvania’s director of testing.

The testing will first focus on areas with the highest community spread.

Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 2, drive-through and indoor walk-in testing clinics will be held in Bedford, Mifflin, Northampton and Tioga Counties. Testing will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Dec. 6.

Beginning Friday, Dec.4, drive-through and indoor walk-in testing clinics will be held in Butler County. Testing will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Dec. 8.

The testing site addresses are:

  • Butler County: Michelle Krill Field, 100 Pullman Park Pl., Butler, PA, 16001;
  • Bedford County: Bedford High School parking lot, 330 West John St., Bedford, PA, 15522;
  • Mifflin County: Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, 1150 Riverside Drive, Lewistown, PA, 17044;
  • Tioga County: North Penn Mansfield High School, 73 W. Wellsboro St., Mansfield, PA, 16933; and
  • Northampton County: William Penn Highway Park & Ride, Emrick Blvd., Easton, PA, 18045.

Details have not yet been released on the dates and locations of clinics in the other counties.