Chester County begins antibody testing for front line employees amid COVID-19

CHESTER COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Chester County began COVID-19 antibody testing for frontline employees this weekend.

Testing is by appointment only through an online registration system, and is open to all first responders, healthcare workers and their household members.

The testing site in the parking lot of Longwood Gardens in Chadds Ford had thousands of appointments scheduled Saturday and will operate six days a week indefinitely.

"Longwood Gardens is committed to supporting our community as we move through this pandemic together," Longwood Gardens President and CEO Paul B. Redman said in a statement. "Longwood has always been a safe refuge of beauty and it is without any hesitation that we answer the call to serve our community by supporting this important testing effort in partnership with Chester County."

Another site is open at the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus in South Coatesville.

The antibody testing is in the form of a simple pin-prick test kit manufactured by Chester County-based Advaite.

"We have been investigating every option open to us to try and get ahead of the coronavirus, and we know that determining who has developed antibodies will be extremely useful in helping us make informed decisions on the way to physical, emotional and economic recovery. That's why we researched the best options available, followed federal and state guidelines, and subsequently purchased tens of thousands of antibody test kits from a manufacturer based right here in Chester County." Chester County Commissioners' Chair Marian Moskowitz said. "But permission to actually conduct the testing met with road blocks from the Pennsylvania Department of Health because of regulatory issues. So instead of channeling our efforts into getting the tests up and running, we have had to focus our energy on overcoming the red tape."

The lab the county paired up with is Genomics based in the Lehigh Valley.

Lisa Jackson, Managing Partner of Lehigh Valley Genomics said, "Lehigh Valley Genomics is committed and prepared to help administer COVID-19 antibody testing to the residents of Chester County. As a high-complexity genetic and molecular laboratory, we are proud to be a part of a solution to bring mass testing to the people that need it most. Together, we can get the county back up and running."

Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said, "This test will help keep our frontline heroes safe, while collecting information on the spread of COVID-19 in Chester County that will help inform decisions made by policy makers and healthcare providers locally and nationally. Most importantly, now we can start the process of antibody testing for the good of Chester County residents."

Chester County is the first in the Commonwealth to undertake antibody testing.

Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline added, "This is not a replacement test for confirming cases, but is another crucial tool that will help us respond to emergencies, treat patients, and care for our older loved ones."
Details of the online registration system are being shared via contacts in the first responder, hospital and health care, and long-term care facility communities.
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