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 Route 33 Park and Ride proposed by McClure at the William Penn Exit in Bethlehem Tp has the following advantages:
"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."
- 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.