The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is celebrating the many accomplishments of its COVID-19 Mobile Testing Unit, which completed operations in June. At a time during the pandemic when case rates were increasingly high, the Mobile Testing Unit provided COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance to Philadelphia communities experiencing barriers to care.

The Mobile Testing Unit began operations with one vehicle in December 2020 and added a second vehicle in May 2021. Critical to the Mobile Testing Unit’s success, were numerous partnerships forged with community and faith-based organizations from throughout the city. Many of those organizations allowed the Mobile Testing Unit to deploy its trucks to their locations. A 2022 needs assessment and ongoing COVID-19 surveillance data were instrumental in determining which neighborhoods would host the trucks.

Throughout its operation, the Mobile Testing Unit weathered the elements to ensure no-cost COVID-19 testing was available to all Philadelphia residents, even after the public health emergency ended in May of 2023. While in operation, the mobile testing unit:

  • served 24,347 patients
  • visited 59 different neighborhoods through the city
  • administered 15,448 rapid antigen tests
  • administered 11,635 PCR tests
  • distributed 5,622 home test kits
  • attended 32 health fairs and community events
  • was chosen for presentation at the 2022 American Public Health Association Conference in Boston.

Special thanks to staff members:

  • Vernell Brown, COVID-19 Testing Program Manager
  • Cielo Butler, COVID-19 Testing Program Assistant
  • Rabiah Asif, Mobile Testing Unit Supervisor
  • Mekeida Thomas, Mobile Testing Unit Coordinator

Thanks also to testing instructors:

  • Indira Barksdale
  • Jasmine Gholston
  • Hadja Jalloh
  • Olivia Roseborough
  • Aateeyah Sharrief
  • Cynthia Solis
  • Latanya Toney

For ancillary support, the COVID-19 Testing Program extends its thanks to the COVID-19 Containment clinical team and the PHL lab.