BUCKS COUNTY >> Bucks County will offer free COVID-19 testing through the end of January at three sites provided by Bucks County Community College.

The three-week testing push was created through a partnership between the county and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, which will operate the locations seven days a week.

It comes in response to recent upswings in post-holiday COVID infections, initially after Thanksgiving week and, currently, in the wake of the Christmas and New Year’s season.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced on Jan. 8 that the state’s testing rate now surpasses the average national testing rate.

“We want Pennsylvanians to know that if they need a test, one is available,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said, adding that Pennsylvania will continue expanding testing opportunities each week. “As COVID-19 remains a threat in our communities, we need to take precautions to keep ourselves safe by monitoring ourselves for COVID-19 symptoms, finding a testing site near to us if we have symptoms and staying home if we are sick.”

The Bucks County Commissioners approved a $1.13 million contract with AMI to provide the PCR testing, which will begin Monday, January 11 and will continue through Sunday, January 31.

Locations and hours are as follows:

- Bucks County Community College, Upper Bucks Campus, 1 Hillendale Road, Perkasie (Blooming Glen Road entrance). Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

- Bucks County Community College, Newtown Campus, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown (Gymnasium) 18940. Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

- Bucks County Community College, Lower Bucks Campus, 1304 Veterans Highway, Bristol. Hours of operation: Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 2 to 8 p.m.

When the free testing program was announced at the Jan. 4 commissioners’ meeting, Delaware Valley University was mentioned as a potential location instead of BCCC’s Newtown Campus. Due to final site requirements at Delaware Valley and the availability of the Newtown site, the Delaware Valley University location will not be used.

Each of the three locations will be able to accommodate up to 350 tests per day. The testing is open to everyone while daily supplies last. County officials said the locations could be considered as potential vaccination sites in the future.

Citizens do not need a doctor’s prescription, but should be mindful of their symptoms before deciding to seek testing. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and fatigue. Less common symptoms that may affect some patients include loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, diarrhea or skin rash.

Participants are asked to bring face masks and cell phones to the test sites. Insurance information will be collected at the sites, but medical insurance is not required for the testing.

To access an interactive map of other testing sites, their hours and requirements, click here.

The state health department reported 475 new COVID-19 infections in Bucks County through Thursday, Jan. 7 for a seven-day average of 356 per day, the highest since before Christmas. A total of 33,463 COVID cases have been reported in Bucks during the pandemic.

Through Thursday, Jan. 7, 23 Bucks County COVID deaths had been reported for a pandemic total of 932.

The county continues to rank fourth in Pennsylvania with 8,189 of the state’s 194,527 partial vaccinations administered here. Bucks also ranks fourth with 310 full vaccinations completed here out of 5,091 statewide.

More information and statistics about the vaccine program are available on the county’s new vaccine information portal.

A total of 169 patients are hospitalized in Bucks County with COVID, 26 of them on ventilators. Hospital capacity for treating them and other patients remains good, with 36 percent of adult ICU beds and 31 percent of medical surgical beds available.

The county commissioners continue to urge the public to download the free COVID Alert PA app, which uses Bluetooth technology to let a person know that they have been exposed to COVID-19 without compromising the identity or location of either the person using the app, or of the person to whom they may have been exposed.

Statistics, charts, links to state health department data and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com.

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