HARRISBURG – The Department of Health recently completed what it calls a ‘pop-up’ COVID-19 testing initiative, with all four Valley counties included.
The department’s Senior Advisor Lindsey Mauldin announced this during a news conference Tuesday, as cases and hospitalizations continue rising statewide, “Despite the number of cases rising, we’re seeing the demand for testing decrease. We need to redouble efforts to increase the use of testing, even as we ramp up the vaccination process.”
Mauldin says the initiative took place over the last 12 weeks and was completed in early March. The department believes increased testing will assist in determining the prevalence of the virus. The initiative prioritized based on the total number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people in a county in 14 days, as well as were outbreaks occurred.
Tests were done in Montour County Week 3 (721 patients tested), Union County in Week 5 (383 patients tested), Week 7 in Snyder (234 patients tested), and Week 11 in Northumberland (128 patients tested). The test results were blended into each county’s normal daily reporting, and in Susquehanna County, she said they stopped an outbreak there.
Mauldin says a testing initiative for K-12 schools is also coming as COVID variants continue spreading in those settings, “We did just receive federal guidance as well to start prioritizing and working through testing in the K-12 space, so we’ll continue to work through that and figure out what makes sense there. We’re also working closely with schools because again, schools must implement safety measures to protect students.”
Mauldin says the US Food and Drug Administration has also given emergency use authorization for over-the-counter COVID tests as well.