Harrisburg, PA - The Department of Health today announced that beginning Tuesday, March 23, a week-long free drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will open for the general public in Luzerne County. This site is available through a partnership with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) and the Wilkes-Barre Health Department.
Beginning Tuesday, March 23 through Saturday, March 27, testing will be available daily from 9 AM to 6 PM at St. Robert Bellarmine Church, 143 Division Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA, 18702.
Up to 450 people can be tested per day. Mid-nasal passage swab PCR tests will be performed. Testing is on a first-come, first-serve basis and is completely free. No appointment is necessary. Testing is also open to individuals who are not county residents. Patients must be ages three and older and are not required to show symptoms of COVID-19 in order to be tested. Patients are encouraged to bring a photo-ID or insurance card. Registration will also be completed on-site. The turnaround time for testing results is two to seven days after testing.
“The virus is still present in our communities, which reinforces the need for continued testing across the state,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “We encourage anyone who feels they need or want a test to take advantage of all COVID-19 testing clinics if they feel they have been exposed to COVID-19. Much of the news and attention has shifted to COVID-19 vaccines, but testing is still the best way to determine your exposure to and to ultimately stop the spread of COVID-19.”
There are three long-term COVID-19 testing sites currently running across the commonwealth in Blair, Dauphin and Delaware counties. Luzerne County has been performing a targeted initiative since March 9 to make COVID-19 testing accessible for elderly individuals who do not drive or have access to transportation. To date, over 250 individuals have been tested at 13 different senior living complexes. Additional testing has been scheduled at another three complexes.
The department has contracted with AMI to perform pop-up COVID-19 testing in counties across the state since September 2020. The contracts were funded by the federal ELC Enhancing Detection grant. Counties under the initial contract, as well as the total number of patients tested, can be found here.
From March 2020 through March 21, 2021, the department has received 11,317,698 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results. From May 2020 through March 21, 2021, the department has received 2,117,430 antigen test results. The total combined number of tests reported to the department is 13,435,128 since COVID-19 testing began in the commonwealth. The number of Pennsylvanians who have been tested by PCR or antigen tests is 5,303,758, which roughly equates to 41.4 percent of the Pennsylvania population. Some people have been tested more than once.
The department believes that increased testing in counties will help determine the prevalence of the virus and assist the county in moving forward. There are currently 46 counties in the commonwealth where the percent of positive cases is above 5 percent on the Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard. Each county is being monitored as the state continues to examine all available data.
The AMI testing site will be open to anyone who feels they need a test. It is important that even people with no symptoms who have tested positive isolate in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals who are tested should self-quarantine while they await their test results. Individuals who live with other people should self-quarantine in a private room and use a private bathroom, if possible. Others living in the home with the individual awaiting test results should also stay at home. The department has additional instructions for individuals waiting for a COVID-19 test result. Individuals who test positive will receive a phone call from AMI while individuals who test negative will receive a secured-PDF emailed to them from AMI.
Counties in need of a long-term COVID-19 testing site should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health to discuss the possibility of setting up one of the four remaining AMI long-term pop-up sites.
For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.
While vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient. To keep Pennsylvanians informed about vaccination efforts:
The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
- If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
- Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.
Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics
MEDIA CONTACT: Barry Ciccocioppo - RA-DHpressoffice@pa.gov
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