HARRISBURG – A mobile testing unit providing COVID-19 testing and resources for all will start to hit the road and travel around Pennsylvania. During a news conference Tuesday, the state Department of Health introduced the first-in-the-nation COVID-19 mobile response unit, known as CATE – Community-Acessible Testing and Education.
Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, says it targets minority and underserved communities, “This partnership is a step in the right direction to breaking down those barriers to our vision at the Pennsylvania Department of Health of a healthy Pennsylvania for all. It is also furthering the Wolf administration’s commitment to creating pathways to health equity for anyone living in Pennsylvania.”
State health officials say creating ‘CATE’ is the result of a unique partnership with Latino Connection, Highmark Blue Shield, and Indepdendence Blue Cross. The unit is an RV equipped to conduct COVID-19 testing at no cost and no appointment is needed. Anyone with symptoms, exposure to the virus, or who need to be tested for work-related reasons can use it. CATE has already made one stop and will travel to 16 counties, although it doesn’t include the Valley – it currently focuses on southeastern and southcentral PA.
Maria Kelley, Nurse Practiconer at Welsh Mountain Health Center, says the need for this unit was first identified during the peak of the pandemic in Pennsylvania, “The need was identified sometime in early May, and from May up until mid-July we’ve been working diligently with the Department of Health and its executives, and other partners at the state level, to make this happen. We came to an agreement sometime in July.”
“We expect to reach rougly about 220 to 250 people per day,” Kelley added.
Kelley says the unit will be served by 30 team members on a rotating basis.
Hear the full audio above.