Mobile COVID-19 unit makes testing accessible for Pa.’s vulnerable communities

Coronavirus testing site
Photo credit Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A first-of-its-kind mobile COVID-19 testing unit is officially up and running in Pennsylvania.

The Community-Accessible Testing and Education RV, or CATE, is a key part of a $450,000 COVID-19 testing program that is making stops in 16 counties around the state.

“At each stop, we will be providing education and resources on COVID-19,” said George Fernandez, founder of Latino Connection.

He noted the RV and the program were designed specifically for vulnerable communities.

“It's extremely important that we meet people where they are. … It helps to increase loyalty and trust amount providers and local community organizations,” he said.

Kathy McKenzie with Highmark Blue Shield — one of CATE's partner organizations — said this program is key in flattening the curve in Pennsylvania.

“(The program is) easier for people in rural areas and areas with limited public transportation, or people who do not have the ability to pay for transportation,” she said.

The unit will be partly maintained by organizations specific to the communities being served.

“Speaking to people in the language they understand, people will be more willing to ask them questions, like if I have COVID, what should I do?” she explained.

“The Latino community and other communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” noted Rev. Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, another one of CATE’s partner organizations. “It's our initiative to make health care accessible for everyone.

“People who are actually on the vehicle are often people who are from the community,” she said. “You get to see folks that you know who are certified with what they do.”

Testing is free for people without health insurance.

To see where a CATE mobile unit is setting up in your county, click here.