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Drive-Through COVID Testing Coming to City

Site will open next week at industrial park

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
September 09, 2020
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A drive-through COVID-19 testing center will open in the city next week, the Allegheny County Health Department announced Wednesday.

Build-out of the site, located in the Industrial Center of McKeesport, began Tuesday, said Amie Downs, county spokeswoman.

Tests will be free but appointments will be required, she said. Funding for the site is being provided by the federal coronavirus stimulus program and the money has been allocated by state officials, Downs said.

The site will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, beginning Sept. 15.

Appointments can be made beginning Monday

“We are extremely fortunate to have so many partners who have assisted us in this effort including the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania National Guard at the state level,” said Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County executive.

Appointments can be scheduled beginning Monday, Downs said. An email address will be required.

The tests will be self-administered and children as young as 3 will be able to be tested. The website address and phone number to make an appointment will be announced once the site is ready to open, Downs said.

Fitzgerald said the county is grateful to Regional Industrial Development Corp., which owns the site, for making the property available.

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The drive-through center is being created in an unfinished section of the old pipe mill building, next to the facility where EchoStar’s call center was located.

The county is also grateful for assistance from McKeesport police, fire and ambulance personnel, Fitzgerald said, as well as the Pennsylvania Region 13 Task Force, the EMS West regional emergency medical council, the Special Medical Response Team and City of Pittsburgh Emergency Management.

McKeesport: 213 cases, 10 deaths

Countywide, nearly 160,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 since March, according to the health department.

More than 3,200 people in McKeesport have been tested for COVID-19 and there have been 213 confirmed cases in the city so far.

Since tracking began, Allegheny County has recorded 10,915 cases of COVID-19, including 358 deaths.

According to the health department, 10 of those deaths were in McKeesport, four in Duquesne, two in North Versailles Twp. and one in White Oak.

New site ‘fills gap’ as schools reopen

Although testing was available at several places in the Mon Valley, including federally qualified family health centers in McKeesport, Hazelwood, Braddock and Homestead, the new drive-through site will fill a gap in testing access, said Dr. Debra Bogen, county health department director.

“As we enter the fall and schools and universities have reopened, we must have broad access to testing,” she said. “This test site came together with hard work, collaboration and coordination across many organizations.”

Residents may be tested at the site if they have symptoms of COVID-19; have been in contact with someone that has COVID-19; work in a nursing home or long-term care facility; are a critical infrastructure worker, health care worker, or first responder; are a high-risk patient and have recently attended a gathering of 10 or more people; or live in a shelter or single-room occupancy.

250 tests available per day

People who do not have cars and cannot drive to the site should call the COVID-19 hotline at 1 (888) 856-2774 for information on how to be tested, Downs said.

Only 250 tests will be available each day and results will be available, generally, within 48 hours, she said. Testing will be prioritize for people who work or live in Allegheny County.

There will be instructions at the site on how to administer the tests and health insurance is not required for the tests, Downs said.

Jason Togyer is editor of Tube City Almanac and volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at jtogyer@gmail.com.

Originally published September 09, 2020.

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