PICTURE CAPTION: Hundreds of residents received COVID-19 tests during a free testing initiative led by the Chester City Board of Health (CCHB), in partnership with Delaware County Council and the Chester County Health Department on June 27.
Office of Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland
Date: Saturday, June 27, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
contact: Aigner Cleveland
More Than 300 Receive COVID-19 Tests during Free Testing Event in Chester
(CHESTER, PA) – The Chester City of Health (CCHB), in partnership with Delaware County Council and the Chester County Health Department administered more than 300 COVID-19 tests to the community on June 27 in Chester City Hall’s parking lot. The six-hour event allowed any resident 18 and older with concerns about COVID-19 exposure to drive-thru or walk-up to receive free testing.
This event was the first of three COVID-19 testing initiatives that the CCHB will facilitate in Chester.
In March, Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland publicly requested that a testing site be placed in Chester after the City received its first confirmed cases of the virus. “Having consistent accessible testing sites in Chester is imperative,” said Mayor Kirkland. “This administration and our Health Board were in constant communication with community stakeholders, and county and state officials, advocating for much needed testing for our people. Today’s event is a result of the model testing initiative that the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium held at Laborers’ Local 413 in Chester last month, as well as teamwork, and support from local donors, community partners, volunteers and county officials.”
According to a Medicare report released on June 20, African-Americans were four-times more likely to develop serious complications, and require hospitalization for COVID-19 infection. The report also showed that African-Americans have a much higher death rate when compared to white Americans. The latest population data indicated that African-Americans account for nearly 70% of Chester’s demographics. “The Chester City Health Board is well aware of the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color,” said Dr. Christopher Hannum, Chester City Health Board Chairman. We are proud to initiate this collaboration with Delaware County Council and the Chester County Health Department to provide the resources for free COVID-19 testing in the city of Chester where over 400 citizens have already tested positive for the virus.”
The CCHB began planning for the three free testing initiatives with the intent to solicit donations to cover all event-related costs. According to the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, one testing event could potentially cost $25,000. Using that figure, Mayor Kirkland’s administration was able to secure $22,000 in donations from community partners. Silvercare Nursing LLC and the Chester Housing Authority each gave $10,000, while Moore Brothers Construction and Lewis M. Hunt Irving Funeral Home both donated $1,000. These donations will be used to support the two future COVID-19 testing events in Chester.
Delaware County Council, who supplied all testing kits for today’s event also provided, tests supplies and staff support. “Thank you to the city of Chester and those who have volunteered to coordinate and implement the testing site,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek. “Testing is vital to the public health of our residents. Testing allows public health officials to identify, treat and isolate patients which protects both those who test positive and the entire community.”
The Chester County Health Department supervised vital public health management of the test results and offered personnel assistance. “Despite Delaware County’s advancement to the Governor’s “green” phase, it is critical to continue to offer opportunities for citizens to seek COVID-19 testing locally,” stated Jeanne Casner, Chester County Health Director. “The Chester County Health Department is pleased to be a partner in the city of Chester’s testing initiative. The partnership has truly taken advantage of each partner’s strengths and expertise. As the Health Department currently providing public health leadership during the County’s COVID-19 response, we are pleased to provide the medical direction, testing supplies, coordination with the laboratory, and distribution of test results.”
Several other agencies, including Keystone First, Delaware Chapter of Black Nurses Rock, Penn Home Health Care, Selby Health System LLC, Angel’s Rise, Laborers’ Local 413, ChesPenn and Widener University were integral in the event’s success.
“We are pleased to support efforts to provide COVID-19 testing to Chester residents. These types of partnerships are essential in creating healthier communities,” said Joanne McFall, Keystone First Market President. “Our relationships with the city of Chester, local non-profits and social service organizations enable our health plan to help residents address barriers to achieving good health.”
“This was a collaborative effort with over a dozen entities offering support,” said Councilman William “Al” Jacobs. “I want to thank everyone who volunteered their time, offered staff support or donated supplies and equipment. None of this would have been possible without their help and expertise.”
Residents who were tested will receive their results by mail. Any person that receives a positive test result will be contacted via phone.
Details for the next COVID-19 testing events led by the CCHB will be announced at a later date.