The Department of Health exceeded its COVID-19 diagnostic testing goal for May in the commonwealth, and plans to increase testing in several regions this week, Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday.
Originally, the Department of Health’s COVID-19 testing initiative aimed to ensure that 2% of the state’s population – 256,141 people – would be tested each month, and that 90% of the people in Pennsylvania would be within 45 miles of a testing location.
According to Wolf, the department beat its goal for the month of May by 11%, with more than 283,000 diagnostic tests conducted.
"We appreciate the hard work done by health systems, pharmacies, FQHCs, medical clinics and other entities that are providing testing for COVID-19 across Pennsylvania," Wolf said. "This goal is just one step in ramping up the state’s testing capabilities and it demonstrates the tremendous progress made to ensure all Pennsylvanians who need to be tested are."
In order to address the second part of the testing initiative, starting Friday, numerous Walmart and Quest Diagnostic drive-thru testing locations across the commonwealth will provide tests for residents living in areas where testing is less accessible. Testing will not take place in Walmart stores or Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Centers, however.
The soft launch of the drive-thru sites – located at Walmart parking lots in Clarion, Erie, Montoursville, Clearfield and Hermitage – will kick off on June 5, with the facilities open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Up to 50 patients can be tested per day, though registration is required one day in advance.
Additional testing sites will be announced on the Department of Health’s website in the near future.
Patients interested in a test can create an account on Quest’s patient portal and answer some questions to determine if they meet testing criteria. If they are eligible, the patient will be notified of a testing location within a 50-mile radius of their location, along with available appointment times. Once they schedule an appointment, the patient can print a voucher that they must bring to their appointment.
After the test is processed by Quest Diagnostics, patients will receive the results via email within 24 to 48 hours. Physicians will contact anyone who tests positive for the virus.
"When we established our testing strategy, we wanted testing to be accessible, available and adaptable and we are working to meet that challenge," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. "Anyone who believes they have symptoms of COVID-19 can get tested today in Pennsylvania."
Through a variety of public and private providers, testing has been more accessible to all Pennsylvania residents over the past few months. Some organizations, like Rite Aid, CVS, Patient First and Walmart offer testing for all, regardless of symptoms. Hospitals, health systems, health clinics and other locations have been offering tests for those that present symptoms or are considered vulnerable.
Wolf, Levine and numerous other officials across the commonwealth and country have emphasized that diagnostic and antibody testing will be integral to reopening efforts as stay at home orders are lifted and residents inch toward getting back to "the new normal."