Coronavirus testing

Members of AMI Expeditionary Health Care's COVID-19 testing team huddle up for encouragement before the free testing clinic got started Monday morning at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Vehicles were waiting outside the Crawford County Fairgrounds early Monday for the start of free COVID-19 testing.

Just under 200 people were tested Monday, according to an official with AMI Expeditionary Health Care of Reston, Virginia, which is conducting this week's free tests under contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The site has the capacity to perform up to 450 tests per day on a first-come, first-served basis with no appointment needed.

A person doesn't have to be exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to get tested, according to the Department of Health.

Registration is done onsite and while testing is free, patients are encouraged to take a photo-ID or insurance card with them to the site.

Patients are encouraged to take a photo-ID or insurance card with them to the site, according to the Department of Health.

To be tested, a person only has to be age 3 or older. For those ages 3 to 17, a parent or guardian with proper identification must accompany the child or children.

"We haven't been tested and we just attended a small funeral this weekend," Cindy Bryant of Centerville said of why she was at the fairgrounds with her husband, Fred. The Bryants were first in line Monday and were among the first two dozen vehicles waiting for testing.

Monday's opening at 9 a.m. signaled the start of five days of free COVID-19 testing in Crawford County. This week's clinic is being coordinated through the Department of Health, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Crawford County government.

Crawford is one of five counties across Pennsylvania hosting pop-up testing locations. The Department of Health is in the midst of a 12-week program holding weeklong clinics in the 61 Pennsylvania counties that don't have their own health departments.

There were 192 tests performed Monday at the fairgrounds, according to Annette Steinhaus, who heads AMI's testing team currently in Crawford County. The 450 number is the maximum number of tests that can be processed each day, she said.

The turnaround time for test results takes two to seven days. Those who test positive will receive a phone call from AMI Expeditionary Healthcare. Those who test negative will receive a secured-PDF emailed to them from AMI.

Even though he's had a partial COVID-19 vaccination, Dr. Doug Hutchinson, a Meadville-area dentist who lives in the Saegertown area, was in line Monday morning to be tested.

Hutchinson already has received the first dose of the two-part Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination. He's slated to get the second dose next week.

So why get tested?

"I want to make sure I'm doing two things," Hutchinson said. "One, I want to make sure I'm staying safe in delivering safe care in my office. And, two, to set an example in the community."

Mary Beth Graham of Conneaut Lake was being tested to make sure she doesn't have the coronavirus before she'll visit her aging father in the coming days.

"I was visiting (other) family during the Christmas holiday," Graham said. "I've been quarantining since I've been back. This just is a double-check to make sure. I want to visit my dad. He's 87 and I sure don't want to give it to him."

Individuals who are tested this week should self-quarantine while they await test results, according to the Department of Health. Those who live with other people should self-quarantine in a private room and use a private bathroom, if possible. Others living in the home with the individual awaiting test results also should self-quarantine.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

You can go

Free COVID-19 testing is being done at the Crawford County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Friday on a first-come, first-served basis with up to 450 tests available each day. Entrance is via Gate 6 off Hamilton Road. No appointment is required.

CATA shuttle bus

Starting today, Crawford Area Transportation Authority (CATA) has free shuttle bus service from Meadville to the free COVID-19 testing site at the Crawford County Fairgrounds. The free testing is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Friday.

The free CATA shuttle bus runs from the Downtown Mall to the fairgrounds for anyone who needs transportation.

Buses depart the mall at 8:45 and 10:45 a.m. and 12:45, 2:45 and 4:45 p.m. Residents may take the regular CATA bus routes to the mall to get on the shuttle for the fairgrounds. Masks are required on CATA buses with exceptions for those under age 2 years and those with certain medical conditions.

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