As COVID-19 vaccines pick up, Pa. officials highlight importance of continued testing

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Vaccinations will get Pennsylvania through the pandemic, but health officials say other steps should not be ignored.

Pa. Department of Health Senior Advisor Lindsey Mauldin says testing is key, and the department’s pop-up testing sites were a success.

Over the course of three months, 42,000 people were tested statewide.

“Despite the number of cases rising, we are seeing the demand for testing decrease. We need to double-up efforts to increase the use of testing even as we ramp up the vaccination process,” Mauldin said.

Mauldin says aggressive testing will continue throughout Pennsylvania.

“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.

The state health department initiated a contract with AMI early on in the pandemic to provide testing sites in Pa. counties that saw a percent-positivity rate above 5%. According to state officials, “at one point, by the end of the 12 weeks, all 61 counties without a county health department had access to testing.”

Testing sites were spread across five regions: 

  • Northwest (NW), testing 5,265 patients total;
  • Southwest (SW) testing 5,995 patients total;
  • Northcentral (NC) testing 4,964 patients total;
  • Southcentral (SC) testing 9,061 patients total; and
  • Northeast (NE) testing 9,941 patients total.

Midstate counties were included in the pop-up sites around week 3 of the 12-week process, with Franklin County receiving a testing site first and testing 1,642 patients. The remaining “south central” counties provided access to COVID-19 testing shortly after: Dauphin, Lancaster, Adams and Cumberland Counties provided offered pop-up testing between weeks 5 and 8, with York and Lebanon providing pop-up sites to its residents in weeks 9 and 10.

“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,” Beam said.

 Each county is being monitored as the state continues to examine all available data. For more information about COVID-19 statistics in Pa. counties, visit the Early Warning Monitor Dashboard.

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