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DOH to Open Free COVID-19 Testing Site at Nittany Mall, Work with County on Mitigation Efforts

by on September 18, 2020 11:57 AM

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Friday announced a pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic will open next week at the Nittany Mall.

Up to 500 registered individuals per day will be tested at no charge on Sept. 25-26 and Sept. 29-Oct. 3. The health department signed a contract with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare to provide testing in communities in need across Pennsylvania.

“These testing sites will be open to anyone who feels they need a test," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news release. "It is important that even people with no symptoms who test positive isolate and quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Patients are not required to show symptoms of COVID-19 in order to be tested. No appointment is necessary, but a photo-ID or insurance card is required. Registration will also be completed on-site.

DOH is also setting up a testing site in Bloomsburg during the same time frame. Since the start of September, Centre County has seen more than 1,100 new cases, about two and half times its total for the months of March through August combined. Columbia County, which has less than half the population of Centre, has had 173 cases this month. For both, the surge has mostly been tied to returning university students at Penn State and Bloomsburg.

Levine called the rise in cases in both counties "significant cause for concern."

Centre County Board of Commissioners Chair Michael Pipe said county officials have been talking with Department of Health staff on a regular basis about potential measures, including a testing site.

"With the increase in cases we’ve been talking with them regularly since early September about additional resources that can be deployed to Centre County and it was a collaboration between many stakeholders, but the county and the department of health certainly talked about it quite a bit," he said. 

Levine also said DOH has offered assistance in making recommendations for localized mitigation measures in Centre County.

“I have directed my staff to assist Centre County in identifying localized containment and mitigation efforts to reduce the spread and facilitate communications between large employers, county officials and local governments,” Levine said.  “This group will work together to develop strategic recommendations tailored to this specific area to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

A short-term effort that Pipe said he expects will take days or at most a couple weeks, DOH staff will meet with county, municipal, school board and other representatives.

"Once these meetings are held, joint meetings will occur with all partners to determine the best steps to assist the county in the work they are doing to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus in their jurisdiction," a news release said.

"Partners in this Centre County effort will include Department of Health staff, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency staff, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Centre County Commissioners, State College Borough, Penn State University, additional local elected officials, local chambers of commerce and other stakeholders."

Pipe said county officials have had daily calls with DOH and have talked about the potential for additional mitigation efforts locally, but no specifics have been identified as of yet.

He said any localized mitigation efforts would be based on data and science, taking into account strategies that have proven to be successful in other counties or states.

"It’s not going to be as if we’re saying let’s do this or let’s do that because it might work," Pipe said. "There has to be a reason behind any action we would take and we’d be very mindful of that. It would definitely be the DOH making the data-driven recommendation and then we’d be making the data-driven decision based upon that."

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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