Philly COVID-19 testing now more available than ever thanks in part to new city contract with Black Doctors Consortium

Pat Loeb
June 13, 2020 - 3:22 pm
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley watches as Dr. Ala Stanford and an aide conduct COVID-19 testing at Enon Tabernacle Church.

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said testing for COVID-19 has never been more available in the city than it is now. That's partly due to a $1.3 million contract, announced this week, with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium which formed early in the pandemic to expand testing in the African American community. 

Dr. Ala Stanford said growing up Black in America, she was often told to wait. But when she saw her community suffering disproportionately from COVID-19, she knew it was time to act.

"I said, 'I am not waiting anymore. I'm a doctor. I know the disease. I can order these kits and this can happen.' Because I was tired of waiting for someone to save us," she recalled.

From that beginning, the consortium has tested more than 5,000 Philadelphians. She expects to test 200-300 a day under the city contract. The consortium also has a contract to test every SEPTA employee.

On Tuesday, Stanford herself stepped in as cars lined up for a drive-thru testing event at Enon Tabernacle Church in Oak Lane.

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Testing is becoming increasingly available, as supplies catch up to demand, and increasingly important as the city reopens, and Councilwoman Cherelle Parker said giving the consortium a testing contract is a tangible response to demands for racial equity.

"We're talking about economic inclusion," Parker said. "Not just a power fist in the air saying 'Black lives matter,' but these Black lives matter so much and we respect the work of these Black medical professionals so much, the city is going to do business with them."