A drive-through COVID-19 testing site opened at the South Philadelphia Stadium Complex on Friday.
Federal and state healthcare workers have been on the scene over the past week, setting up tents and supplies, but the site officially opened on Friday afternoon for patients suspected of having contracted the coronavirus.
Through Sunday, the site had treated 397 people during its first two days — which mainly included other healthcare workers — in the parking lots owned by the Philadelphia Phillies and Citizens Bank Park.
The site was operational from 2-6 p.m. each day and officials said 165 healthcare workers were tested, which remain the priority of the site.
“That site has specific criteria,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Our top priority is healthcare workers with symptoms. After that, anyone over the age of 50 who has symptoms that are characteristic of the coronavirus would be appropriate and we would offer a test to.”
On Monday at 1 p.m., the city had announced 175 confirmed cases in Philadelphia. Of those cases, eight were under the age of 20. There were 89 cases ages 20-39; there were 42 cases ages 40-59, and another 36 over the age of 60, according to Farley. Of those cases, 14 were hospitalized, including 11 over the age of 50. Twenty-one of the cases were healthcare workers.
Officials saw a sharp rise in cases, as many of the 20 testing sites in the Philadelphia metropolitan area were not reporting testing results over the weekend, which created a backlog on Monday.
Health officials are recommending anyone with mild systems to stay home or call their health care provider.
“If people don’t fit the criteria, we will turn you away,” Farley said. “We need to conserve the testing materials for those who most need it.”
Farley said for appropriate cases, no appointment is needed at the stadium site and tests are free. Residents should bring a drivers license and healthcare information if they have it but those without healthcare are still welcome to the site. He warned that there could be long lines to be tested.
“Do expect that you’ll have to wait,” Farley said. “It may take some time.”
Though the large testing site is in South Philadelphia, local residents shouldn’t be concerned about the proximity of the sites to homes in South Philly.
Council member Kenyatta Johnson said he approves the location of the testing site because the unused parking lots are far from residents’ homes.
“The site is large and vacant at this time, as all sporting and entertainment events are suspended until further notice,” Johnson said. “The site is also removed from most residential neighborhoods in South Philadelphia and the entire city and the location is easily accessible by highway and South Broad Street.”
Johnson said the city is experiencing a pandemic that has not been seen over the last century and the city needs to take action.
“This is a time when we need to come together as a city,” Johnson said. “All of us are vulnerable to this virus and it can be deadly depending on your health conditions and depending on your age. We want to do as much as possible to make sure people are safe and to contain and eliminate this virus.”
Johnson said his office is closed but he still responds to voicemails and social media inquiries. His office number is (215) 686-3412.
“I still have people inboxing me on Instagram and Facebook asking questions because there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “And people are still in need of the proper information so they can make decisions about their lives.”