State to offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Luzerne County starting Monday

    Pa. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine briefs journalists on Saturday 4/18/20 (Screen Capture)

    Officials at the state Department of Health say they’ll start offering drive-thru testing in the parking lot of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, as they expand testing capability in a part of the state that’s been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Testing will start Monday, running from noon to 4 p.m., and will be available for 100 first responders and health care workers who are experiencing symptoms, the agency said in a statement. Starting Tuesday, April 21, the site will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily to test up to 200 Northeastern Pennsylvania aged 65 and older, first responders and health care workers, the Health Department said.

    Through midday Saturday, health officials had confirmed 31,069 cases in all 67 counties, with 836 confirmed fatalities.

    The three-county area around Wilkes-Barre has seen some of the highest incidence of COVID-19 statewide. As of midday Saturday, there were 1,712 confirmed cases in Luzerne County and 32 confirmed fatalities; 620 confirmed cases and 35 deaths in Lackawanna County, and 943 confirmed cases and 34 deaths in Monroe County, state data showed.

    Residents seeking tests are required to register one day in advance on the Department of Health’s website. There is no on-site registration, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said during an online briefing on Saturday. Patients do not need a doctor’s prescription to register for testing, Levine said.

    To access the testing site: Take Exit 168 – Highland Park Boulevard from Interstate 81 (northbound or southbound) and following the signs and directions of local officials.

    “After testing, you are required to return home and self-isolate,” Levine said in a statement. “If your symptoms worsen while you are waiting for your test results, talk to your doctor and if you experience a medical emergency please seek immediate care.”

    The Health Department’s State Laboratory in Exton, Pa. “will process the tests and provide residents with results in two to three business days. Patients will receive an email to log onto the registration site to access their test results,” the agency said in its statement.

    “The planning and logistical efforts needed to pull together these testing sites in just a matter of days required a significant amount of coordination among state and county personnel,” Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield said in a statement. “It speaks to the professionalism and skills of the teams involved, and their dedication to the health and well-being of their communities.”

    John L. Micek
    John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.