Montgomery County’s community testing site will stay open until May 30

UPDATED: April 10, 7:54 a.m.

Montgomery County Commissioner Dr. Val Arkoosh joined KYW Newsradio live on Friday morning to talk about the importance of keeping a community COVID-19 testing site open. Listen to the full interview above.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Montgomery County’s community-based testing site is not closing at the end of the week after all.

The site was expected to close Friday as it was losing federal support. But Montgomery County Congresswoman Madeleine Dean says her office sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Surgeon General Erica Schwartz, asking the federal government to continue support of testing in the county.

“We now have a commitment the federal government will continue to support a Montgomery County testing site until May 30,” Dean said. 

It’s currently on Temple University’s Ambler campus, but because of Thursday's storm, the site will be closed Thursday and Friday. The new site will be at Montgomery County Community College. 

The contract will still be with a private lab to test 250 samples each day.

Dean says it’s important to keep the site open to quickly test first responders, healthcare providers, or other critical workforce members.

But she says it’s also important because the site gives access to people who might not be able to get a test anywhere else.

“Regardless of whether they’ve got insurance, regardless of whether they’ve got a relationship with a family physician, is critically important,” she said. 

It’s also important, she adds, since the only way to get a handle on the coronavirus is to know where it is and who has it, and the best way to know that is to have testing available to all.

“The reason is not just for their own health but for the greater public health as well,” she said. 

Dean says Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine tells her the state is sending a mobile testing facility to Montgomery County so they can go into a harder hit community to test. 

The county now has a total of over 1,500 positive cases. With six new coronavirus-related deaths announced Thursday, the total number of deaths in the county is now at 49. 

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh says they’ve been watching the percentage of tests that come back positive, which has been around 19% or 20%, which lets them know there isn’t a spike in cases and allows them to plan for things like how many hospital beds they’ll need.