Monday, May 04, 2020

NorCo & Easton Hospital Strike Deal For Covid-19 Testing Site, McClure Continues Push For Regional Testing Center

Northampton County and Easton Hospital have struck a deal for a Covid-19 testing site, starting May 6. Executive Lamont McClure is investing $150,000 to get this program off the ground. He has also ordered the county's EMS to assist with what will apparently be a drive-through operation, which will be open between 10 am and 4 pm. It will be open to all county residents who exhibit one of the Covid-19 symptoms recognized by CDC. No prescription is needed. Persons without medical insurance will still be tested.

McClure is hopeful that the hospital can perform 80-100 tests per day, but will evaluate the program's success after five days.

His main effort has been to urge the state Department of Health to establish a regional testing center in Northampton County at the Park & Ride located next to the Route 33 Exit onto William Penn Highway in Bethlehem Tp. Although a testing center for Northeast Pa has been established in Wilkes-Barre, McClure continues to advocate a site within the Lehigh Valley. He has the support of Pike County's Emergency Management Director Timothy Knapp, who also chairs the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Counter Terrorism Task Force.

Knapp makes the following points in a memo to the state Department of Health:
"It is crucial to the population residing in our ten member County region that testing be available and convenient. The most affected population is also the least likely to have the means and availability to travel a great distance in order to accomplish required testing.  People in the low income and advance age populations would definitely benefit by a more localized and convenient testing facility. It is also very important to all members of our communities that individuals affected and or infected with this devastating disease be identified for public and their own safety.  It is crucial to test, treat and isolate those members of our community. The additional testing would add to the larger picture of the extent COVID-19 has affected the Task Force area. Mitigation efforts, investigative efforts and information concerning the spread, contagiousness and prevalence of the disease would also be greatly aided by the availability of an additional testing facility. An additional testing site would also add to the total number of tests administered. This would exponentially increase the amount of data collected and bolster our health networks working at or near capacity. It would quite simply assist in making the testing more readily available to a greater percentage of our community.

"The economic impact to the North Eastern part of the State of Pennsylvania covered by the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Counter Terrorism Task Force is additionally affected by the lack of data concerning the prevalence of the COVID-19 virus in the general population. An additional testing facility would aid in providing decision makers data in understanding the prevalence of the population previously exposed or infected with the disease. This information has a direct correlation on the ability to return to normalcy in our daily lives. Information gleaned from an additional testing facility may be used in determining when it is appropriate to open facilities, public areas , schools and sporting events. It may also be useful in determining the level of social distancing and personal protective equipment required in the newly opened venues.

"An additional testing facility, for the above reasons, would be a valuable and important asset for our Task Force Region. We ask that you seriously consider assisting us in our endeavor to have one located in the southern region of our area of responsibility."
The Route 33 Park and Ride proposed by McClure at the William Penn Exit in Bethlehem Tp has the following advantages:

- Easy on / off of highway, no residential neighborhood close by;
- St. Luke's Anderson Hospital is 1 exit away, less than half mile;
- Lanta Bus service runs to Park & Ride;
- Easy access from 80, 78, 22;
- Penn DOT Digital billboards along Route 33, 80, 78, 22;
- Refrigeration trailer Northampton County Coroner has one that was purchased by DOH;
- Field office trailer, jersey barriers, etc. available through Task Force

The approximate travel time from other counties?

Carbon - 50 minutes;
Lehigh - 10 minutes;
Monroe - 28 minutes;
Pike - 57 minutes;
Wayne - 72 minutes.

Updated 8:03: I originally had the opening date as May 26. It is actually much sooner.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally. Such centers have been open in other states for weeks. I really can’t understand why this step has taken so long in Pennsylvania. 3 weeks ago, a Federal agreement was reached for drive through testing at nationwide Walmart parking lots.

Anonymous said...

Executive McClure and President of Council Heckman are doing a very good job for the county during this time. I wish the State and Federal governments would do better.

Anonymous said...

12.26
try
https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/5/1/21240295/cvs-walgreens-walmart-kroger-rite-aid-coronavirus-tests-verily-google

Anonymous said...

4:28 - The matter of re-opening is being left up to each state’s Governor. Pennsylvania Governor Wolf, and those elected officials who carry out Wolf’s directions according to Pennsylvania Law, is in charge of what goes on here. The Federal government has put into place all resources needed by every significant date of this battle.

Our politicians in Pennsylvania are managing what goes on here. Some are doing a good job, others probably not up to the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Employees at Easton Hospital recieved the 60 day notice the June 30th is the date the hospital closes unless bought. What happens then?

Anonymous said...

"Executive McClure and President of Council Heckman are doing a very good job for the county during this time. I wish the State and Federal governments would do better."

Are you kidding? McClure and the worst administration AND council in county history had to have their disastrous nursing home bailed out by the National Guard. The. National. Frickin. Guard. That's state and federal help coming to the aid of county citizens whose elected officials COMPLETELY BLEW THIS. Lamont McClure should do the right thing and resign this morning. He has blood on his hands. We've never had a more incompetent executive. Never. He's killed people. He's actually killed people with his uncaring incompetence. If he was an R, Bernie would be leading the protest and we'd never read the end of his daily screeds. But he's a Democrat and a shady lawyer. He's Bernie's kinda guy.
Absolutely unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

The intent behind the drive-through testing site is good, for sure. But, why would it require 3 weeks to get up and running?

In addition, I encourage you to do the math behind this worthy cause. Northampton County, with 300,000 residents, divided by 100 people tested per day, will require 8 YEARS to test everyone who presents with a headache or sore throat. Of course, not everyone needs to be tested, or will show up at the testing site, so let’s call it more than a year to handle the demand.

Anonymous said...

I’m confused about the reference to the travel times from other counties if the resting site is only open to county residents with symptoms. Is there some thought that the testing site will be available to residents from other counties?

Anonymous said...

Many allergy symptoms and asthma attacks show up as the same type of symptoms as COVID 19 and will result in unnecessary testing of some individuals. However, for peace of mind as well as the possibility of people with these symptoms being found positive, they may be eligible to donate plasma that would indeed help others. Northampton and Lehigh County should have their own testing site.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I’m confused about the reference to the travel times from other counties if the resting site is only open to county residents with symptoms. Is there some thought that the testing site will be available to residents from other counties?

The regional test center proposed along Rte 33 would be open to residents of the entire region.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/5/1/21240295/cvs-walgreens-walmart-kroger-rite-aid-coronavirus-tests-verily-google"

Yeah, I've seen no testing sites at Walmart or any neighborhood drug stores, which is what Trump promised seven weeks ago. Promise not kept.

It is imperative that there be multiple testing sites throughout the entire state. Yest, isolate, trace, mask. These are far more effective than the draconian measures imposed by Wolf.

Anonymous said...

7:36 - I believe that McClure is trying to shovel county tax dollars to struggling Easton Hospital for one test site (open only to county residents), while pushing for another regional test site in Bethlehem Township (open to residents of other counties).

It's an example of government sending conflicting signals, and pushing the Easton site would actually hurt the chances for the regional site.

NorCo taxpayers should not be bailing out Easton Hospital, period. What makes this an even worse idea is that (as another reader already posted), Easton Hospital already sent out notices of closing within 60 days to its employees. This is why government shouldn't be involved in picking winners and losers.

Separately, I would also ask why any city, county, PA or even federal government should have to pay anything to get a testing facility set up in the Valley. We're home to two major health systems (LVHN/LVH & St. Luke's HN/Hospital) that are literally sitting on BILLIONS in fund balances.

These "non-profits" are in reality large corporations that already receive enormous tax breaks from all government entities. They should be leading the way in opening their own mass testing facilities and using their own funding instead of looking for local/state/federal handouts.

Valley taxpayers have already paid the bill for such services.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Lamont McClure should do the right thing and resign this morning. He has blood on his hands. We've never had a more incompetent executive. Never. He's killed people. "

You sound like Nancy Pelosi. I believe our local officials have responded far more effectively to this crisis than those on the state or federal levels. By bringing the national guard to Gracedale, McClure has in all probability saved the lives of several residents. Congregate care facilities everywhere have been hit hurt, and this measure was proactive.

Bernie O'Hare said...

hard, not hurt.

Anonymous said...

Coronavirus testing sites at both CVS and Walmart have been open for weeks in several other states. So, the question remains, if not in Pennsylvania, why not?

Anonymous said...

I, for one, appreciate what Gov. Wolf has done to protect us.

Anonymous said...

Alas, regionalism that makes sense...And 6.44am the most incompetent Executive since the creation of the Home Rule Charter in 1977 was indubitably, John Brown.

Anonymous said...

Glad you corrected the reported date to open a drive-thru testing site. Such a site, although smaller, could be opened on County property within days, I think.

Anonymous said...

Easton Hospital is not a non profit.

Anonymous said...

Anybody want to bet that there's a lot more of the virus around than the Happy Talkers say?

Anonymous said...

Very true

Anonymous said...

How and why would someone have to travel so far for a COVID test if they do not feel so good?

Anonymous said...

8:58 AM

A lot of "Happy Talkers" accept that. It could actually be a good thing.

Lower fatality rate and closer to herd immunity.

It is the ghouls who are unhappy at those prospects.

Anonymous said...

The herds that I see are to be slaughtered.

People who won't mitigate only sabotage the social distancing strategy. And they do it because they are too special to be bothered, don't believe the virus is a serious problem, or both.

One of the ways you can tell who they are is that anyone who dare to point out the ever-climbing death count is considered a "ghoul". What shall we call you?

Anonymous said...

An asshole.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:46 said:

"People who won't mitigate only sabotage the social distancing strategy. And they do it because they are too special to be bothered, don't believe the virus is a serious problem, or both."


Or because they believe that they live in a free country.

Maybe a communist-style lockdown is attractive to those on the Left, but to those of us who grew up believing in freedom, it's wrong.

We were all willing to do our part to help keep the hospitals from getting swamped so that everyone would have access to medical treatment. But politicians on the Left have changed the way we keep score and have used this crisis as an opportunity to seize more power by taking away our freedoms. That's wrong and it's un-American.

There are ways to keep the virus from swamping the hospitals without taking away our rights. Instead of taking the easy way out, maybe our politicians should put a little thought into finding better solutions.

Anonymous said...

National Guard at Gracedale. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

9:46 AM

"What shall we call you?"

I thought you were already calling me a "Happy Talker."

I guess you just wanted to set up your "friend" so he could swear without his mommy hearing him.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the only one trying to decide what to call you, sweetie.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Or because they believe that they live in a free country.

Maybe a communist-style lockdown is attractive to those on the Left, but to those of us who grew up believing in freedom, it's wrong.

We were all willing to do our part to help keep the hospitals from getting swamped so that everyone would have access to medical treatment. But politicians on the Left have changed the way we keep score and have used this crisis as an opportunity to seize more power by taking away our freedoms. That's wrong and it's un-American.

There are ways to keep the virus from swamping the hospitals without taking away our rights. Instead of taking the easy way out, maybe our politicians should put a little thought into finding better solutions.
May 4, 2020 at 10:54 AM


Oh, your Song of Freedom comes through perfectly! Now stop making excuses and get out there and infect someone during an epidemic!

Anonymous said...

Some people have lives, others try to dream up names to call others.

To each his own.

Anonymous said...

That's Bernie's hobby, not mine. Me, I'm focused on the villainy.

Anonymous said...

You really don't do "clever" very well, do you?

Anonymous said...

If you live in Pennsylvania and are unhappy with the way things are going, blame it on Pennsylvania, not the Federal government.

Anonymous said...

What I see is that my governor has acted to protect me and my president has abandoned me.

peterjcochran said...

I’m no expert because I went to NBC school. But ,what I see as complaining narratives here about Gracedale are coming from someone that probably has never visited this facility. Large numbers of people with underlying medical conditions and frail to begin with live in relatively close contact. Now add the virus in a world pandemic ,everywhere almost the same risk. The Pennsylvania National Guard is there because of high numbers of employees that are not . The work load is staggering, the NG folks are trained and younger and physically in much better shape than the average person in this population. The residents are at Gracedale because they are frail ,some indigent,And no one else can care for their needs bedside and if they were someplace else ,more would have passed away,,or would have been dead months ago before the virus . The county executive and other contributors in his leadership pool had the forecast to get the Governor to get his NG folks over there. NG. people aren’t just sitting around in a rubber room ,they had to drop their lives to deploy here.

Anonymous said...

Peter -

All good points.

I don't have a problem with the NG at Gracedale, and actually think that protecting those who are most vulnerable is the approach that we should be taking (while relaxing restrictions on others).

Unfortunately, government seems to operate with a "one-size-fits-all" approach to problems, and we've certainly gone too far to the extreme for most people during our current crisis.

Back to Gracedale, while I'm happy that those at the facility are being cared for, I'm also concerned as to how we got to that point. A majority of similar facilities haven't called out the National Guard, so I have to question why it was necessary for NorCo to do so.

Managing the workforce - for normal times and preparing for a crisis - is a basic management function of any entity. That NorCo had to go to the extreme of using the National Guard causes me more concern than comfort. It's not sustainable.

peterjcochran said...

Anon5:23 The. national guard is the manpower for unexpected events to restore order at the Governor s Order . Floods and civil unrest include the States mission but also Federal missions integrating with the regular Army and Air Force. Primary people are dispatched by MOS as a skill is needed. A US Army National Guard unit or Army Reservist unit from a “Chemical unit would be well versed on how to not get contaminated and or de- contamination of people and assists done in mass . Electronic intelligence Missions flown over the Middle East during the golf war were done from an Aircraft registration from PA.Air Guard. They wore that airframe out ,it’s now a static display at Ft. Indianantown Gap . Post I’d “open” you can see it there.

Anonymous said...

working for NBC is not helpful in this crises. We have plenty of opinionated reporters. Old airplanes are no help and moss does not gather on roiling stones. Fail to see the point of the post or its relevance.

peterjcochran said...

You don’t get it? NBC as in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defense school of the U.S. Army . Look it up ,you may clearly see my point ,your right about plenty of opinionated reporters .

Anonymous said...

Each State, each County, and their leadership are most responsible for the level of preparedness and response to this medical event within that State.

It’s too easy to scapegoat our Federal Administration for where Pennsylvania finds itself at this date. That’s the easy, lazy, and political side of a person commenting. Why?

Nearly half of all American States are further along in getting back to normal than is Pennsylvania. They’ve all dealt with the SAME Federal officials and resources! Some states came into this crisis less prepared than others. Pennsylvania, under Governor Wolf, is on the ‘Not Ready’ List.

Best example, would be Pennsylvania’s neglected, out-of-date, computer capabilities. This is the reason so many have not yet benefited from all the Federal monies made available weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Peter Cochran, I want to add my appreciation for your service to our nation. I lost a war-hero father at a young age due to his sacrifice in the name of freedom and liberty. I know we are both proud of that condition called PATRIOTISM. Keep commenting, Sir. You ‘get it.’

Anonymous said...

Peter -

5:23 here again. I understand that the NG moves at the order of the Governor.

I guess my point was that whether the Governor unilaterally sent the help or NorCo requested it, many other similar facilities have managed without the help of the Guard. I should have been clearer about that.

Thus my comment about being more concerned about why NorCo was in that situation than comforted by the Guard being there.

I'll have to check out the display at the Gap. Thanks.

peterjcochran said...

My mother is in a private facility anon5:23 she is 91 yrs old had a history of type2 diabetes, For some reason she is no longer on that medication because ,i believe she eats differently (butter is out) salt and she’s trimmed down and it’s managed. The NG would not respond to this non public facility under the present conditions. Help was apparently asked for by our Northampton County Executive. The responsibility rests on state and local ,Evan or mayors in their respective venues. Mayor Panto here in Easton, in my humble opinion had to make hard decisive actions. Believe me ,they were throat wrenching , You judge a leader by what happens when the chips are down and how they react.- I commend our Mayor and County Executive by there leadership. This is not over ,,we need to get ready for November flu and as I have posted here on Bernie’s blog prior and early, a return of a different blend of same virus .