FEMA-run COVID-19 testing site expected to open in Philadelphia this week as record cases continue – Greeley Tribune

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Federal help to ease COVID-19 testing is on its way to Philadelphia, but post-holiday growth is breaking more records in and around the city.

It was another all-time high on Wednesday from New Jersey, where there were 31,000 new daily confirmed cases, and in Philadelphia, much-needed help is on the way.

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“Over the past two weeks, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in Philadelphia,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettygole.

The health commissioner says nearly 30,000 people have been infected in Philadelphia since Christmas, with 40% of those who test COVID-19 now positive. The actual number of cases is much higher.

Due to the influx of COVID-19 patients, many hospitals, which are also facing staff crunch, have postponed non-emergency surgeries.

Bettygole said, “We are approaching the dire situation we all fear, in which treatable conditions can be fatal because our hospitals don’t have the space or staff to care for people who need help. “

Bettygole says the lack of critical testing will be helped with the FEMA site, which is expected to open Friday at the Sibotie Recreation Center in southwest Philadelphia.

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People who cannot have symptomatic tests are advised to assume they have COVID-19 and everyone should wear surgical-grade masks in crowded public places.

On schools, the health commissioner says they should remain open if there is enough staff.

“When we look at cases in schools, most of those cases are not coming from in-school transmission,” Bettygole said. “They are coming from home, from outside school activities.”

In neighboring Montgomery County, there are now an average of 1,400 cases a day, which is a
240% increase in two weeks.

“We have by far the highest number of cases during this pandemic. Yet thankfully, at least at this point, hospitalizations are not moving,” said Dr. Valerie Arkosh, president of the Montgomery County Commissioners.

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Montgomery County officials say testing poses a major challenge. They plan to add 1,500 more weekly appointments for testing and they are also working to get more home testing for at-risk groups.

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