Wednesday, April 14, 2021

County’s free COVID testing site will continue through March

BELLEFONTE — The county’s free COVID testing site will continue through March 27 at its current location — 1155 Benner Pike, Suite 120.

County commissioners approved a contract amendment with provider AMI Expeditionary Healthcare LLC during a Feb. 23 board meeting. The contract had been set to expire on Feb. 27 before the amendment was approved.

Centre County has offered the free testing site since Oct. 27 — first at the Nittany Mall, before moving on Jan. 19 to the former Comcast building on Benner Pike.

Previously, the contract allotted for 300 tests per day, but with numbers dropping, the contract for March has been changed to allow for 200 tests per day. This brings the cost of the service to approximately $66,000 per week. County Administrator Margaret Gray noted that the cost will decrease if fewer than 200 tests per day are administered.

Testing is available 10 7 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, to anyone of any age, and no appointment is needed. Photo ID is required.

Individuals with insurance will be asked to provide an insurance card, but no co-pay or any other cost is charged.

Those without insurance also are tested free of charge. Centre County will continue to use money set aside from its $14.7 million CARES Act block grant to pay for the testing, but those dollars “are diminishing by the week, as we pay for this testing site,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Pipe said.

Pipe added that as vaccinations become more widely administered, the need for testing will lessen.

“I think it makes sense for us to keep it here at least through the month of March, monitoring it as we go along,” Pipe said. “As we see vaccinations really start to jump, we’re going to be pulling back on the AMI testing site as we go forward.”

Commissioner Mark Higgins said the number of tests being conducted daily at the site has decreased since the holidays.

“I think we need to keep testing, but at the same time we have to be mindful that while we had 300 or more people arriving over the holidays for testing, we haven’t come close to that number now in several weeks,” Higgins said.

Geoff Rushton of contributed to this report.