Centre County’s free COVID-19 testing site will be in place for at least another month.
The county Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to extend a contract with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare to continue operating the clinic from March 2 through March 27 at 1155 Benner Pike, Suite 120.
Prior to the extension, the contract had been set to end on Saturday.
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.
Testing is available 10 a.m.-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.
The amended contract with AMI is for up to 200 tests per day, a decrease from the current contract’s 300 tests per day, at a rate of about $66,000 per week. County Administrator Margaret Gray noted that the cost will decrease if fewer than 200 tests per day are administered.
Centre County is continuing to use money set aside from its $14.7 million CARES Act block grant, but those dollars “are diminishing by the week as we pay for this testing site,” Board of Commissioners Chair 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 Christmas and New Year’s.
“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.