The Department of Health provided an update on the 12-week pop-up COVID-19 testing initiative completed in early March 2021, highlighting the total number of patients tested. The department also provided an update on the current testing initiative with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) to provide continued COVID-19 testing across the commonwealth.
“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. “AMI has been a significant partner to the Department of Health by providing pop-up testing in counties across the commonwealth without a health department. Thanks to our ongoing partnership with AMI, we can continue offering COVID-19 testing to anyone who feels they need or want a test. 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.”
The department has been contracting with AMI to perform pop-up COVID-19 testing in counties across the state since September 2020. The contracts were funded by the federal Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Enhancing Detection grant. Counties under the initial contract, as well as the total number of patients tested, can be found here.
Under the contract extension for the 12-week pop-up testing, the department prioritized where to start deploying testing sites based on the total number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people in a county in the past 14 days as well as where outbreaks were happening, county population, and other metrics. By the end of the 12 weeks, all 61 counties without a county health department had access to testing.
From March 2020 through April 4, 2021, the department has received 11,938,094 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results. From May 2020 through April 4, 2021, the department has received 2,394,028 antigen test results. The total combined number of tests reported to the department is 14,332,122 since COVID-19 testing began in the commonwealth. The number of Pennsylvanians who have been tested by PCR or antigen tests is 5,514,287, which roughly equates to 43.1 percent of the Pennsylvania population. Some people have been tested more than once.
At the beginning of March 2021, the department extended the contract with AMI to provide more targeted and longer-term testing sites to reach vulnerable populations and short-term sites to contain the spread of the virus during outbreaks. Already, AMI deployed to Susquehanna County in Forest City and tested 53 patients total between March 8-10. This site was for Forest City School District students, faculty, staff and partners due to an outbreak.
AMI deployed to Blair, Dauphin, and Luzerne counties in March. Luzerne County has also been performing a targeted initiative since March 9 to make COVID-19 testing accessible for elderly individuals who do not drive or have access to transportation. To date, over 250 individuals have been tested at 13 different living complexes.