YEADON – With COVID-19 positivity rates having dropped dramatically in recent weeks, the Delaware County COVID-19 Task Force is closing its high-volume testing sites that operated during the Omicron variant-based surge this winter.
On Monday, February 28, the Personic-operated drive-through testing site at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center in Sharon Hill closed and Tuesday is the last day of the government-supported drive-through testing site. federally operated under the leadership of the Health and Human Services Community Testing Access Improvement Team, in partnership with Trinity Mid-Atlantic on the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital campus in Yeadon.
“Community spread is low and demand for testing has dropped significantly. In January we were doing thousands of tests a week until now last week we would have done maybe a dozen at our own testing sites,” said Rosemarie Halt, RPh. MPH, Acting Administrator, Division of Population Health and Chair of the Board of health. “The demand has dropped significantly and with low positivity and low community spread, we (also) have quite high vaccination rates.”
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health dashboard there have been 94,372 total confirmed cases in Delaware County since the start of the pandemic with 14,000 additional probable cases, 318,900 negative tests and 1,819 deaths from the virus.
The vaccine dashboard shows 351,371 county residents are fully vaccinated, with 83,336 having been partially vaccinated and 160,663 having received an additional shot since late August.
At the peak of last January 6, 1,800 cases were reported daily in the county, which fell to 22 positive cases last Saturday, according to the dashboard. This number approximates cases in June and July 2021, when daily positive cases were among teenagers in Delaware County.
“I feel like the moment is pretty safe and the audience feels the same,” Halt said. “And with the changing masking guidelines from the CDC and the State Department of Health, I think it’s warranted to cancel our testing at this time.”
Halt said the PCR positivity is 4.7%, which puts the county in the mid-to-low range according to data provided by the CDC. The seven-day average of hospital emergency room visits and incidence rates are very high and the number of patients on ventilators has also dropped significantly, she said.
“In making the decision, it wasn’t just people asking for less testing, it was hospitalizations and emergencies that were really driving the need for testing because they were overwhelmed in January,” said Halt, “But hospitals now have a much better ability to deal with all the issues.
Delaware County will continue to offer free PCR testing at its Delaware County Wellness Center in Yeadon located at 125 Chester Ave. Mondays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at the Keystone First Wellness Center in Chester, 1929 W. Ninth St., on Wednesdays. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Halt noted that local pharmacies and health care organizations continue to provide COVID-19 tests, and home testing kits are increasingly available at retail establishments. Additionally, every household in the United States continues to be eligible to receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests, which can be ordered at https://special.usps.com/testkits.
For more information about COVID-19 testing, visit the Delaware County COVID-19 website at delcopa.gov/testing or the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Symptoms and Testing webpage. state health at https://www.health.pa. gov/…/Pages/Symptoms-Testing.aspx.
Halt said health officials are not letting their guard down as they continue to review the data and prepare for any further variations.
“We always encourage people to get vaccinated. It’s really important and we always give vaccines,” she said.
Halt said health officials have learned many lessons from the virus. The county will continue to administer vaccinations and is preparing for pediatric vaccinations when approved for under-5s and is ready to re-establish testing sites if needed.
“We have the infrastructure in place and have the capacity to set up a test site within 36 hours,” she said. “We now have all the equipment and all the logistics and parts that we need.”
“It’s a huge relief that we’ve finally come to this. Most of us feel like it’s been a long, long road,” Halt said. “For all of us working in public health, it’s been pretty exhausting.”