Has Chester started COVID-19 testing yet?

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I wrote a post on April 9th how cases had double overnight from 14 on April 8 to 28 on April 9th. There was one line in that post that pissed off a few people…

Recent reports indicate Blacks are getting tested at a FAR fewer rate than whites and there’s no reason to believe that’s not occurring here.

One anonymous commenter wrote:

I absolutely CANNOT wrap my head around HOW or even WHY you honestly believe race has ANYTHING at ALL to do with who gets tested? I have not been offered a test, NOT ONE DAMN PERSON in my family has been offered a test. ALL THREE of my children are “frontline” workers and NOT ONE OF THEM has been offered a test. Get over yourself and for the love of all that is holy ENOUGH WITH BULLSHIT

That was followed up with anonymous #2:

Get over yourselves.
AND STAY HOME.
Nobody is being offered tests!
Except federal Politicians and wealthy celebrities.

I’m rather confident I could get a test if I needed one, so ‘Getting over myself’ may not be the best response since I was writing on behalf of many Chester residents who are probably not as fortunate as me. But, their point doesn’t go unheeded. There aren’t enough tests for everyone who should have them. It’s a matter of class exacerbated by race. Because of that, there is good reason to highlight the impact of lack of tests in the Black community.

Today’s column by Solomon Jones on Inquirer.com lays it out nicely. To the commenter’s point, testing is…

…prioritizing to those at high risk for worse outcomes, including the elderly, health-care workers, and people with preexisting conditions. The scarcity of tests creates a situation in which some people who need to be tested ultimately aren’t.

Obviously, more people than federal politicians and wealthy celebrities have been tested, but Black people in poor neighborhoods are dying twice as much as Whites and if resources were fairly distributed to the most vulnerable, poor Black people with preexisting conditions, little or no access to healthcare, and who live in highly polluted cities, would be high on the list.

Jones makes the class point here…

Philadelphians living in higher-income communities have gotten tested for the coronavirus six times more often than those in lower-income neighborhoods.

After he mentions class, he moves on to race…

  • …in Philly, if you’re black, you’re less likely to have a doctor, less likely to get a doctor’s note, and less likely to get tested for the coronavirus.
  • 2016 study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that black neighborhoods in Philadelphia were 28 times more likely than white neighborhoods to be “low-access,” with fewer primary care doctors per resident.
  • The rules skew toward those with more resources, fewer preexisting conditions, and ready access to primary care physicians.

Even regarding Blacks who get a doctor note to get a test…

People were taking buses to get out to testing stations, only to be turned away because they weren’t in a car. … Another [barrier] is that you needed a referral from your primary care doctor to get tested. So you show up at a site with a prescription to get tested, but your doctor is from Jefferson and you show up at Einstein. They might tell you that your doctor is not in our system, so you can’t get tested here.”

Jones says there needs to be a strategy to deal with the disparities affecting African Americans. That’s what we were hoping Mayor Kirkland was doing with his intent to requests COVID-19 tests in Chester.

Jones mentions the efforts of a group of Black doctors who are taking matters into their own hands to serve Philly’s underserved Black communities…

…doctors from the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, will take to the streets (of Philadelphia) in a van this week and test anyone who registers at realconciergemedicine.com. The only requirement to get tested is that you have symptoms, or you have been exposed to someone who is known or presumed to have been positive within the last 14 days.

Chester COVID-19 cases have increased from 14 to 71 between April 8 to April 17. Maybe this is the right time to request testing in Chester, if that’s the intent.