Bedford county is the latest of our local counties to open a free COVID-19 testing site from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The location will test more than 2,000 residents over a five-day period.
Testing began at Bedford Middle School Wednesday morning, with dozens of cars lining up in the Bedford Area High School parking lot waiting to be tested.
This comes at a crucial time for the county.
“Testing sites like here in Bedford are incredibly important because they are able to identify people that are sick,” said Dave Cubbison, Bedford County EMA director. “We are also then able to take mitigation efforts then with those folks, have them isolate.”
The drive-up and walk-in testing site at can test 450 residents per day and will operate through Sunday.
Cubbison said he and the county commissioners jumped at the chance to open the site in Bedford.
Bedford County has seen over 1,600 reported cases and 33 deaths since the pandemic began.
“This is really taxing our elderly population and the group homes, or long-term care facilities,” Cubbison said.
The virus is also taking a toll on local EMS providers, some of whom have tested positive, stretching staff to their limits.
Cubbison said 911 is always available, but should only be used for severe cases.
“We are trying to preserve the hospital beds and the ambulance runs for those people who are having chest pain, who are having other issues that we would consider life threatening,” he said.
Cubbison encourages residents with symptoms to take advantage of the free testing site.
“We have enough help here that they are continuously moving vehicles through with the tests,” he said. “They’re being as efficient as they possibly can under the circumstances.”
Patients receive their results in five to seven days.
Those who test positive are required to quarantine.
Cubbison said the testing can have an impact.
“We are gonna get through this together,” he said. “It’s going to take some time. I can expect spring and summer we will still be in this kind of a mode, but the light is getting brighter. The work that’s being done here is for the betterment of not only our neighbors, but of this entire county.”
If you plan to get a free test make sure to bring a photo ID and health insurance card.
If you don’t have health insurance Cubbison said you can still be tested at no cost.