One year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 mobile response unit

Vaccinate PA

(WHTM) — It is the one-year anniversary of “community accessible testing and education” or, CATE. Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 mobile response unit is critical for COVID-19 when it comes to education, testing, and vaccinations.

CATE has administered 8,300 COVID-19 vaccinations, 5,200 tests, and has reached more than 20,000 people across the Commonwealth.

“Our educational material is constantly changing every single month. As you know, new data is put out, now with the delta variant, and third boosters. I mean we’re being asked these questions right, what people are seeing on TV is being asked of us each and every single day,” George Fernandez, founder and CEO, Latino Connection said.

Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 mobile response unit focuses on Pennsylvania’s underserved communities.

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“Last year at the peak of the pandemic, in April when reports started coming out that Hispanics and African Americans were dying at higher disproportionate rates than any other ethnic community group or community, we decided that we needed to really be, instead of being at home doing nothing, we decided that we needed to be in the front line of defense,” Fernandez said.

“All the local food banks in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley have been very helpful as partners. They help us get the word out to people who are in vulnerable situations, who do not have access to transportation, to get to a hospital easily, or people who are speaking Spanish and need to have translation services,” Kathleen McKenzie, Vice President, Community Affairs, Highmark Blue Shield said.

CATE was first focused on testing, then vaccines came along, and CATE had a big impact.

“I believe that upward of about 40 to 50% of the people we have reached for vaccinations were people that were most likely not going to get a vaccine,” Fernandez said.

The CATE team is waiting for guidance from the state Department of Health on booster shots but says there should be an update soon. One thing we do know, CATE will keep rolling around the state through May of next year.

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