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Free COVID-19 testing event in York works to reach minority groups disproportionately impacted by pandemic

Organizers said African American residents account for 11% of Pennsylvania's population but they account for nearly a third of COVID cases and a quarter of the death

A free COVID-19 testing event is happening Thursday and Friday in York as organizers hope to reach out to communities that they say have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

"This is not a game to me, " said Dr. Leonard Hart, principal of Lincoln Charter School as he stood outside the free testing center on West King Street. "Nine. Nine. I've lost nine close, close friends. So scary."

That's why Hart said, he was all onboard for the idea of the two-day free mobile testing clinic. Lincoln Charter School teamed up with New Covenant Community Church, Katallasso Clinic, and CATE (Community, Accessible, Testing, & Education) to make the event happen.

The Lincoln Charter School CATE (Community, Accessible, Testing, and Education) event will be held again Friday on 459 West King Street in York from 10am-2pm on October 9.

Organizers said COVID-19 disportionately impacts Black Pennsylvanians. They said African American residents account for 11% of Pennsylvania's population but they account for nearly a third of COVID-19 cases and a quarter of the deaths where the race of the person is known.  Organizers add, Latino and Asian communities share a similar but smaller sort of disparity.  

"This attack has certainly attacked in our community people of color," said Bishop Anthony Sease of New Covenant Community Church, who said religious leaders made sure to send out fliers to both African American Churches and Community Spanish Assemblies. "So, when something like this comes available, it is to our advantage to connect and make a remedy come to pass."

Learn more about health equality issues in the United States.

Hart stressed it is important for community members to help mitigate the virus.

"We want to get back to some sense of normalcy with our schools and our communities but until we understand that this is very serious and do what we must do to open up the economy, open up, try to get back to normal, we have to do our part," said Hart.

The organizers remind everyone, some people could be infected with COVID-19 but show no sign of symptoms. They said, testing helps determine the rate of infection in the community. 

"I think there are a lot of people that are living unaware of where they're at. Whether they have it. Whether they're asymptomatic. Whether they may have the COVID," said Sease who emphasized the importance of providing an opportunity for free testing for those who may not be able to afford it. Sease added he hoped the event would also provide an opportunity to people to address their fears and get some questions answered. 

Democratic State Representative Carol Hill-Evans of York County also stopped by the event Thursday. 

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for the neighborhood and for the residents and for the city to go over there and get tested. particularly those who have not been tested and who may wonder if they have it or if they don't have it," she said.

Rep. Hill-Evans added she too plans to get tested at the site on Wednesday, not because she is showing symptoms, but because she wants to emphasize the importance of the event and access to health care.