City unveils custom truck that brings COVID-19 testing to you

Philadelphia's mobile COVID-19 testing truck
City Councilmember Curtis Jones and Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley stand with the health department employees who will staff the mobile COVID-19 testing truck. Photo credit Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — If you can’t get to a COVID-19 testing site, Philadelphia now has a site that will come to you.

City Councilmember Curtis Jones joined Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley and recreation officials Monday at the Carousel House in Fairmount Park to unveil the custom-equipped truck.

Conshohocken-based Aardvark Mobile Tours outfitted the mobile COVID-19 testing truck with four testing windows. The city has leased it for all of 2021 at a cost of $400,000.

It will be parked in underserved communities and rec centers so neighbors can make appointments or walk up for tests, but Jones said it will also allow the city to respond quickly to a localized outbreak.

“We have to be able to go to where the virus is,” said Jones. “A mile up the road are at least six assisted living facilities, where thousands of seniors who have limited mobility live. If there is an outbreak, this van can be deployed to address testing and, hopefully, God-willing, someday, vaccines.”

Farley agreed: Vaccines are rolling out, but full coverage is going to take some time. Meanwhile, the virus will continue to be among us.

“We hope our case rates are going to be falling and as the case rates fall, testing and contact tracing are going to be more important than they are today when the case rates are high,” he explained.

He said mask-wearing and social distancing will still be necessary, too. The city reported more than 1,600 new COVID-19 cases since Friday.

The truck can be set up and taken down in minutes, so it can hit up to four spots a day.

A calendar of mobile truck stops is listed on the health department’s website.