PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Experts say more diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is needed to safely phase-out social distancing orders.
According to a recent Harvard Global Health Institute study, Pennsylvania averages nearly 6,000 tests per day or about a tenth of the recommended minimum.
The Rite Aid along River Street began testing people with COVID-19 symptoms nearly three weeks ago. But now it is ramping up its efforts which could help the commonwealth get closer to its testing goal.
The drive-through at the Rite Aid near Wilkes-Barre isn’t for customers to pick up prescription medication. The people navigating the designated spot in the parking lot are being tested for COVID-19.
“We need to do more of it so we can get back the way things should be,” Albert DeFrehn of Plains Township said.
But until this past Friday, people needed to have symptoms of novel coronavirus before they could get tested here. Now they can undergo it even if they don’t have symptoms.
“I’ve been thinking about it because back in January I was sick for several weeks on and off and I was just wondering if I was one of the early victims,” DeFrehn said.
The Plains Township site was one of only six Rite Aids in Pennsylvania doing the testing since late April. But now nine new drive-thru Rite Aid testing locations, including one in East Stroudsburg, just opened.
“I want to highlight the great work of Rite Aid, a local Pennsylvania company and the great work that they are doing to increase testing access to residence in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Rachel Levine said.
Staffers at the Plains Township Rite Aid say as many as roughly 400 people a day are tested here. Several PPE-wearing workers provide individuals a self-swab kit to take a nasal sample while remaining inside their car.
“I would think it just has to get around so everybody is tested and so we can track it,” DeFrehn said.
A Forty Fort man says he just made an appointment under the advice of his employer.
“You could be asymptomatic so right then and there you don’t know if you are sick or not. Like I said, I thought I got food poisoning. For all I know tomorrow morning they might say I have this, coronavirus. I hope not, but who knows,” James Ambrose said.
The self swab samples taken can be done within a matter of minutes on site seven days a week.
But remember: you must preregister online.