WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Trying to get tested for COVID-19 isn’t always easy with limited supply of at-home tests or long waits at testing sites.
Neither was a problem Wednesday at a local drive-thru testing site’s first day.
The driver navigating Wilkes University’s Henry Student Center Parking lot isn’t showing up for in-person classes. Those are on hold until the end of the month because of the COVID surge in the community. Instead, Brian Kelly came for a COVID test one day before the Wilkes-Barre man’s trip to the dentist office.
“They won’t let me in unless I have a legitimate testing result,” Kelly said.
With hundreds of COVID infections being reported daily in Luzerne County, and more than 1,000 just a few days ago, the city of Wilkes-Barre is offering a free, drive-thru antigen testing clinic.
“With the coronavirus and the omicron, we want to prevent the spread. So the sooner we can find those positive cases and eliminate that, that’s what we want to do,” Wilkes-Barre City Health Department director Henry Radulski said.
Earlier this month, a drive-thru, lab-based PCR test clinic at Kirby Park was crammed with people. While thousands were tested, there’s still a need.
“There are many more people that haven’t been tested in the city of Wilkes-Barre and a lot of people don’t have the means to get this kind of testing. So to give free testing is a huge asset,” testing assistant/medical student Moustafa Almeky said.
Unlike PCR tests which can take days to learn the results, this antigen testing is rather quick. Participants find out how they tested in a matter of minutes via a text or email.
Patricia Niznik of Larksville came for the nasal swab test after being exposed to someone with the virus.
“I was having some symptoms myself so I wanted to get checked. I don’t know if it’s a cold or if it’s COVID,” Niznik said.
A dilemma for many of us this winter, a dilemma organizers are intent on addressing as long as it takes.
“We will do whatever it takes to combat the coronavirus and our mission is all about protecting the health of our community,” Radulski said.
Wilkes-Barre City Health Department received funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to make the testing clinic possible.
Rapid testing will continue Thursday, January 20th from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and again from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Thursday and Friday, January 27th and 28th.