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20 Mar 2020

Coronavirus testing info: A different kind of Opening Day

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March 20, 2020 Category: Coronavirus Posted by:

The Home Of The Phillies became a new coronavirus testing site on Friday as the number of cases in Philadelphia continues to grow.

By Denise Clay

Usually, the groundskeepers at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia would be getting the home of the Phillies ready for another season of Major League Baseball and all the pageantry connected to it.

But thanks to the coronavirus, Friday was Opening Day at the park for another group; medical professionals operating a drive-thru coronavirus testing site.

City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced the new testing site during his daily press briefing with reporters on the progress of the City’s coronavirus response. From 2p.m.- 6p.m. daily, the drive-thru site will be open to the public, but will actually only test people in the following categories, Farley said:

*Healthcare workers displaying symptoms of the virus, including hospitals and doctors office staff with direct patient contact;
*Nursing home staff who have direct contact with patients;
*First responders;
*Home healthcare aides who are directly in contact with patients; and
*People 50 and over who are displaying coronavirus symptoms including fever, shortness of breath,and a dry cough.

To get the test, you have to bring a driver’s license or some other form of identification and an insurance card, if you have it, Farley said. While the new site will be open to the public — like the 20 other sites doing testing around the city –there is a limited number of tests available, so the criteria for testing is going to be tightly followed, he said.

It’s also going to require some patience on your part.

“It’s kind of like a new restaurant opening up,” Farley said. “Service is going to be slow. Expect a wait.”

When the City approached him about creating the new site in his district, Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson thought it was a great idea, he said.

“We need to do everything possible to contain and eliminate this virus,” he said. “This is a site with access to I-95 and 76. So, it’s convenient.”

Currently, Philadelphia has 67 of Pennsylvania’s 268 cases of the coronavirus. Of those cases, 55% are among people aged 20 to 39. Ten of those who tested positive were healthcare workers, and another thousand people were tested on Thursday, Farley said.

Because the new site is going to be focused on healthcare providers who may have been exposed to the disease, the subject of personal protective equipment for those doing the testing, something that’s been in short supply nationwide, was broached. Farley said that the city is trying to work that out, and that there are quarantine protocols for those administering the tests.

In other news, due to the closing of the City’s Parks and Recreation Centers, the food distribution centers for School District of Philadelphia students will be moved out of those centers and into District schools, charter schools and Philadelphia Housing Authority sites.

About 80 new sites will be in place to make sure that children aged 18 and under have access to two meals a day, said Cynthia Figueroa, deputy nayor for the Office of Children and Families. The sites will be posted on www.phila.gov and no identification is required to pick up meals.

Gov. Tom Wolf also refined the order shutting down all non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania. That list now includes construction of such things as hospitals, dry cleaning businesses that first responders might use for uniforms, and businesses like bicycle shops that essential personnel may need to repair their main form of transportation, something that the City had concerns about.

To stay informed on the coronavirus and Philadelphia’s response to it, go to: www.phila.gov/covid19 or call 800-722-7112.

Visit philasun.com/coronavirus for ongoing coverage.

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