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Curative COVID-19 testing in Allegheny County to end this year

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Curative COVID-19 testing sites in Allegheny County will close on Dec. 30.

Allegheny County will close its third party-run COVID-19 testing sites before the end of the year, officials announced on Monday.

The county worked with the company Curative to open 11 testing sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials said they decided to phase out the sites because case numbers and hospitalizations are falling. During the peak of the omicron surge, the sites conducted nearly 30,000 tests in a week. In recent weeks, the sites combined have averaged less than 500 tests per week.

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One of the busiest testing sites outside the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History was responsible for 244 tests over the last month. The least visited testing site, whose location was not identified, averaged less than a test a day in the same time frame.

“For the past two and a half years, Curative Inc. provided Allegheny County residents with a much-needed flexible and expansive COVID-19 testing service,” said Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen. “With the increasing availability and use of at-home tests and the reduction in COVID-19 cases in the county, the need for this expansive testing option is not the necessity it once was.”

Apress release noted the county plan to eliminate Curative testing services “coincides with the company's plans to end testing throughout the country.”

The county’s Curative sites will close in two phases.

The Homestead Waterfront kiosk, Mr. Smalls kiosk, Smithfield Street kiosk and the Parkway Center Mall location will close on Dec. 2.

The Bridgeville trailer, Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History kiosk, and McKeesport drive-thru trailer will close on Dec. 30.

Four fleet vans, which service a variety of sites, will also end on Dec. 30.

Dr. Maureen Lichtveld, the dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, said she thinks it’s reasonable to roll back testing at this point in the pandemic. She noted that at-home tests have become more popular as people have become more comfortable using them.

While the PCR tests offered by Curative are more sensitive than at-home antigen tests and provide fewer false negatives, Lichtveld said the at-home tests are a great step forward from a public health perspective.

“We might get false negatives, but then you’ll have clinical symptoms that will push people to do an additional [test],” said Lichtveld.

At-home rapid antigen tests are nowcovered by many insurance companies, and testing is more readily available at clinics, urgent care centers, emergency departments and some pharmacies.

ACHD director Bogen said the plan will prioritize “keeping open the sites that served our most vulnerable residents.”

“These sites have faithfully served residents who most need the services since the earliest days of the pandemic. For many, they provide a valuable testing safety net,” Bogen said.

Lichtveld praised the department’s emphasis on access for vulnerable populations.

“To me, that’s the most important, because in public health if you take care of the most vulnerable, you’re taking care of everyone,” she said.

The county health department said they’ve distributed 61,200 at-home COVID-19 test kits to partner organizations, who provide them to their clients.

If a person thinks they might have COVID or another winter respiratory disease likeinfluenza orRSV, Lichtveld suggests staying away from the emergency department. Instead, people should contact their primary care provider or set up a telehealth appointment.

“Testing is just one of many very important actions we can take from a public health perspective to control transmission,” Lichtveld said.

She recommends implementing other safety measures like getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do the same, asking people for their vaccination status, wearing a mask and social distancing.

“There is a level of personal responsibility to avoid or minimize transmission, and it is our individual responsibility to do so,” she said.

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at