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Free COVID-19 Testing In State College Extended Into Next Week To Curb “Likely” Community Spread

A staff member of AMI Healthcare administered a COVID-19 test at the pop-up site at the Nittany Mall in State College on Friday, Sept. 25.
Min Xian
A staff member of AMI Healthcare administered a COVID-19 test at the pop-up site at the Nittany Mall in State College on Friday, Sept. 25.

Free COVID-19 testing at a pop-up site in State College will continue for another five days, as both the demand for testing among residents and the positivity rate from tests performed so far at the site remain high, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The decision to extend testing in Centre County is based on the fact that the county still has the highest percentage of positivity statewide over the last seven days at 9.4%, Deputy Press Secretary of the department, Maggi Mumma, said Friday.

“Of the 623 cases reported within Centre County since last Friday, there have been 13 cases confirmed in long-term care facilities within the county,” Mumma said in an email. “Since such a small number of confirmed cases are stemming from long-term care facilities, it is likely the county is experiencing community spread.”

Mumma said a total of 1,055 tests have been performed since the pop-up test site at the Nittany Mall began testing last Friday. The department said a case investigation and a contact tracing process have been initiated for each confirmed case of COVID-19. 

“We've been very surprised how positively the community has taken this test,” said Dr. Jorge Simental, lead physician for COVID-19 testing at AMI healthcare, which the DOH contracted with to conduct testing. 

Simental said the site has tested between 180 and 350 individuals each day since it started. 

“We've had a lot of students come in. We have a tremendous [amount of] elders. The elderly population that lives in the surrounding counties are coming in to get tested,” Simental said.

He said the positive rate for those who were tested at the site so far is about 10%, which is “still relatively high.”

The state said the pop-up testing was meant to gauge the level of the transmission of the virus. 

“With increased testing, communities will be able to pinpoint any outbreaks, or potential outbreaks, to stop COVID-19 in its tracks before continuing to spread,” Mumma said.

Simental said, so far, it’s working as intended.

The pop-up test site at the Nittany Mall continues to offer free COVID-19 testing to anyone who wants it, symptomatic or not, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Additional testing will take place next Tuesday through Saturday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m at the same location.

Min Xian reported at WPSU from 2016-2022.
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