• Dr. Stanford gave free tests to Philadelphia residents
  • Some residents do not have access to tests.
  • Stanford and team tested about 1,500 in 3 weeks
  • Pennsylvania to reopen northern counties first, lower reported cases
  • Philadelphia and southeast counties not reopening yet

A Pennsylvania doctor decided to make COVID-19 testing available to Philadelphians who can’t have access to them through free tests that she and her team provided.

Pediatric surgeon Dr. Ala Stanford and her team of volunteers provided free coronavirus tests to residents in a local Philadelphia community.

"Every time someone got turned away, I would get a call," Dr. Stanford, who reportedly paid for the tests herself, told CBS News' Jericka Duncan.

In a report to CBS News, Stanford and her team have been able to accomplish testing more than 1,600 people in three weeks and on Friday they have been able to perform diagnostic tests to over 200 people in a Philadelphia church parking lot.

When tests began to run out and left around 100 more people in line, a local hospital assisted and donated more tests.

Out of its population of 2.8 million, Philadelphia has only tested two per cent of it for coronavirus and has been testing 1,500 people per day on an average basis but according to health officials, “they need to test at least five-to-ten times that amount before they can safely consider reopening”.

Philadelphia health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said that getting tested for the COVID-19 had become easier but that easy accessibility depends on where a person lives.

"I think it's really important to have a steady supply chain that we can count on in terms of testing, and it seems like that is developing," Dr. Levine said.

According to CBS News, Philadelphia was one of the harder hit areas in the Pennsylvania which was already the state that has the sixth highest number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. and ranks as the state that has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 related deaths.

The state’s health department claimed that it has tested at least 40,000 people for the virus last week.

Levine said that Pennsylvania is aiming to test every resident who are showing signs of coronavirus symptoms and they are currently working on this initiative.

Philadelphia and other southeast parts of the state that was hit harder with coronavirus cases will remain closed while northern counties with lower reported cases per capita will be among the ones that would reopen first.

Some business would be open by May 8 while restaurants would still remain “only curbside only across the state” and places like movie theaters would remain closed.

A nurse awaits his next patient at a mobile COVID-19 testing station in a public school parking area in Compton, California
A nurse awaits his next patient at a mobile COVID-19 testing station in a public school parking area in Compton, California AFP / Robyn Beck