COVID-19 coronavirus 17

Nurse holding test tube with blood for 2019-nCoV analyzing. Novel Chinese Coronavirus blood test concept

Almost 400 people have been given no-cost coronavirus tests at a pop-up clinic organized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health due to high percentages of positive tests reported in recent weeks in Indiana County.

The testing program comes on the heels of another spike in positive diagnoses, as a percentage of all those tested. More than 14 percent of results reported by the state were confirmed COVID-19 infections.

Today is the final day for the COVID-19 screenings being offered in the parking lot of Indiana Mall in White Township. Swabbing is offered for those who walk up and for motorists who drive through without leaving their vehicles.

State health officials contracted with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) to provide testing in communities in need across Pennsylvania. The company collects health insurance information and bills the providers for those being tested. The state covers the costs for those who aren’t insured.

“No client is billed and no one is turned away,” said Thomas Stutzman, director of Indiana County Emergency Management Agency and a leader of the Indiana County Pandemic Plan Committee.

AMI officials tallied 145 tests on Thursday, the first day of the clinic, Stutzman said. AMI administered 106 on Friday, 73 on Saturday and 68 on Sunday. The facility has the capacity to test 440 people a day.

The clinic ends at 6 p.m.

“Since the beginning of September, we have seen an increase of 324 cases in Indiana County, which gives us significant cause for concern,” state Health Department Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said, when the clinic was announced last week. “These testing sites will be open to anyone who feels they need a test. It is important that even people with no symptoms who test positive isolate and quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The department decides which counties to deploy testing based on the total number of confirmed cases in the last 14 days per 100,000 people as well as where outbreaks are happening, county population and other metrics.

A week ago, Indiana County had the 10th-highest percent-positivity rate in the state at 5.9 percent. However, in previous weeks the percent-positivity for Indiana was above 10 percent.

From Oct. 1 through Thursday, Indiana County registered 14.3 percent positive results: 73 were confirmed infected with the virus out of 511 people who were tested.

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the county courthouse; Indiana Area and Homer-Center schools; Blairsville, Homer City, Clymer, Center and Burrell; and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.