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Harrisburg, Pa. -- Efforts to expand testing across Pennsylvania are ongoing to "ensure that every Pennsylvanian who wants a test can get one," said Gov. Wolf and Dept. of Health Secretary Dr. Levine today at a press conference.

“If we want to mitigate the spread of this very contagious virus, we must continue to understand how it’s impacting Pennsylvania. Most importantly, improving access to testing helps Pennsylvanians who want and need to test for COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said.

“Testing also provides us with critical data to understand where the disease is in our communities so that we can take the necessary proactive measures to stop the spread and continue to protect the public.”

In an effort to expand testing, the state has formed partnerships with Walmart and Quest Diagnostics, which provide direct access in many communities, including rural areas.

The administration also continues to work with laboratories across the state in order to enhance testing capacity in Pennsylvania, particularly as we see significant national delays in receiving test results due to other states experiencing major case increases.

“In Pennsylvania, we are committed to ensuring that testing is accessible, available and adaptable,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Through working with our partners, we are helping to ensure that anyone who needs to get tested for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania can get tested. Testing, along with wearing a mask, washing your hands, maintaining social distancing and contact tracing are essential tools to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.”

Nine drive-thru Walmart testing sites launched on Aug. 5. These nine new sites are in addition to existing Walmart drive-thru sites in Clarion, State College, New Castle, and Edinboro.

Jamie Reilly, Walmart regional health and wellness director was on-hand to thank the Governor for the partership.

Pennsylvania has conducted the ninth highest total number of tests for COVID-19 in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1.6 million tests have been completed, which equates to 13 percent of the Pennsylvania population.

"We need to do better," said the governor with regards to testing. "Results in two weeks is almost useless," he said. An oral, self-administered test with a result in 15 to 30 minutes is the "holy grail" of testing. 

Dr. Levine described the difference between the two types of testing currently available. A PCR test tests for the DNA of the virus, which is a "very accurate, spensitive, and specific test," she said. That test is used for diagnosing COVID-19 in a patient. An antibody test is a blood test that looks for an immune response to the virus but does not indicate current infection.

At the height of the first wave in April, statewide testing capacity was limited to under 8,000 tests per day. Pennsylvania is now averaging more than 22,000 test results per day, as of Saturday, Aug. 1, and is testing about 4 percent of the population each month.

The most updated testing sites and information is available at the Department of Health. Testing sites continue to be added.

For the updated commonwealth map of testing sites, visit Pennsylvania COVID-19 Viral Testing Sites.

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.