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Norris Square will be the site of two free COVID testing sites on Feb. 20 and March 6. Photo: businessyab.com
Norris Square will be the site of two free COVID testing sites on Feb. 20 and March 6. Photo: businessyab.com

PA Reps. Danilo Burgos and Malcolm Kenyatta to host free COVID-19 testing in Norris Square Park

Testing will be conducted in the park twice over the next three weeks. The first is on Feb. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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On Feb. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m, the offices of Pennsylvania State Representatives Danilo Burgos and Malcolm Kenyatta are collaborating with Independence Blue Cross and Latino Connection to bring a free COVID-19 testing site to Norris Square Park to serve the surrounding neighborhoods.

In organizing the testing, both reps pointed to the lack of concrete COVID-19 infection data out there on Latinx and Black populations in Pennsylvania and especially Philadelphia.

Across the country, both Latinx and Black populations are the most disproportionately affected both in the rate of hospitalization and death.

A large reason for the disparities is the lack of trust both populations hold for the healthcare system. 

It’s why testing directly in the community is key to building trust and bridging the gap in care. Amid COVID-19, testing is the first step in developing a pipeline of trust that could lead to better vaccination rates as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available.

It’s a sentiment shared by Philadelphia Black Doctors Consortium founder, Dr. Ala Stanford, and seconded by George Fernandez, the founder and CEO of Latino Connections, who stressed the importance of continuing to engage with the community as more help becomes available.

"Even with a vaccine available, free and accessible COVID-19 testing and education remain critically important, especially for our underserved communities," he said in a press release.

For Kenyatta, testing in the community provides yet another opportunity to discover and develop better ways to serve it regarding COVID-19.

“This pandemic has widened the gap in many long-existing systemic disparities that are influenced by race, ethnicity and socioeconomics,” said Kenyatta in a press release about the testing, “and as relief measures such as testing availability and vaccinations are deployed, we’re still seeing how these factors dictate who benefits and who doesn’t.”

His and Burgos’ testing effort in Norris Square Park will take place over two Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days.

The first is this coming Saturday, Feb. 20, and the other will be on March 6.

Given the cold weather, Starbucks will also be on hand to provide free coffee and the Community College of Philadelphia will be in attendance to provide information on going to college and available scholarships.

“Let’s continue to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing our community the resources we need to defeat it,” said Burgos.

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