PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — We learned very early in the pandemic that seniors are especially vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19. While getting seniors vaccinated is considered a high priority, testing them for the virus is still considered important.

Park Avenue Towers Apartments in Wilkes-Barre and Anthracite Apartments in Pittston are the two Luzerne County senior high rises where COVID testing was conducted Thursday.

While long term care facilities have rightfully gotten much attention during this pandemic, the vulnerability to the virus is just the same at these sites.

It’s a PCR swab test done right at the door of 65-year-old Mary Ann Maira’s apartment. She is one of more than a dozen Anthracite Apartments tenants who signed up for the COVID testing “to make sure that I didn’t get it yet. I went for my first shot already and the second one is on the 27th,” Maira said.

Area Agency on Aging Luzerne and Wyoming Counties is working with Pennsylvania Department of Health to provide COVID testing this month at 15 senior high rises. 

The testing at Anthracite Apartments comes after the building manager says three tenants were stricken with COVID-19, all last year.

“I mean I didn’t think I had it because I’ve been very careful for a whole year. I was just wondering why it took the Department of Aging a whole year to come to a senior high rise. A whole year!,” said Beverly Michaels, a tenant at Anthracite Apartments.

“It would have been better sooner but I’m glad that we’re here now,” Marion Kusters ,Team Lead Strike Team One, AMI Expeditionary Healthcare said.

AMI Expeditionary Healthcare conducted the testing this day at both Anthracite Apartments and Park Avenue Towers Apartments. The team lead indicated logistics had to be worked out at the state level but deferred questions about it to the state health department.

“Anywhere there is a congregation of a lot of people in a small place you have a higher risk of contracting COVID,” said Kusters.

Area Agency on Aging has been eager to get the senior high-rise testing done sooner rather than later to help conquer COVID.

“You know I think it’s definitely, it’s one of the steps, definitely one of the steps. You know, we’re hoping that it grows into something more,” said Mary Roselle, the Executive Director of Area Agency on Aging Luzerne and Wyoming Counties.

Roselle did not say exactly what that “something more” might be. She did say her agency is more than half-way to completing COVID testing at the 15 designated senior high rises by the end of the month.

An AMI Expeditionary Healthcare worker says results on Thursday’s COVID tests should be known in 24 to 48 hours.

Mark Hiller Eyewitness News.