b'53H E L P W H E R E I TS N E E D E Dmuchhigherthantheircorrespondingcountypopula-tions22% BIPOC and 13% Black, respectively. Argos Argo Test Specialists became familiar faces in Pittsburghcontinued support.made it possible for testing to remain in these communities, said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. the Allegheny County Health Department. I thank Argo for stepping up and being part of a program critical to the public health of all.The volume of tests revealed something, too. Argo testmanagerTreDavisandtestspecialistJackworth Smith kept an eye on the number of bright red and black biohazard bins the county supplied to them from day to In spring 2020,as the COVID-19 pandemic tookday. At first, during the height of summer, their corona hold across the United States, Argo AI was forced to ad- runs might net three binscontaining clear plastic bags just. Office workers went remote. The testing fleet wentbulging with pending tests. So I kinda knew that maybe on hiatus. And Argo employees looked for new ways tothe county wasnt going in the right direction [in flatten-help. Because Argo is, at heart, a transportation compa- ing the curve], Smith said, and in a few weeks, they shut ny rooted in a culture of safety, leaders knew they coulddown bars and restaurants again.meet one crucial need in Allegheny County, Pennsylva- By their final runs in late August, with some state and nia, where the company is based: transporting COVID-19local restrictions easing, both the bins and the moods of test kits.those inside the health centers seemed noticeably light-InMay,whenfreetestingforCOVID-19wasstiller. I just love it when you all come by, said one nurse, Test manager Zachary Zafrissparse, the Richard King Mellon Foundation purchased agreeting Smith outside a clinic in Pittsburghs South Side loads a crate of COVID-19supply of high-quality test kits from the California-basedneighborhood. The two shared a friendly, safely distanced test kits to be delivered to acompany Curative. County health officials secured part- exchange.county health center. ners to fly kits back to the West Coast for processing, butSwartz said its empowering to look back now at how local health care workers had no easy way to collect thosethe partnership evolvedfrom the first day when neither kits from Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) inFQHC workers nor Argo employees were sure how to neighborhoods across the region.make it work, to weeks later when test specialists volun-The county needed a logistical partner, said Argo AIteered for the honor. Davis agreed. Earlier this year, his CEO Bryan Salesky, someone who could safely transportgreat uncle died of COVID-19. The collaboration present-these time-sensitive tests. We knew we had the right re- ed one small way to contribute.sources to step in. This partnership let me give back to my town when it From mid-May through the end of August, two Argoneeded it most, Davis said. Helping develop technolo-AI test vehicles and a select group of test specialists safelygy, helping with health care, and helping people in my shuttled 15,583 kits. In all, those employees donated morecity? Yeah, thats just awesome.than 500 working hours over 603 stops. Its one of the more meaningful things that Ive ever done, said Steve Swartz,thePittsburghfleetoperationsmanagerwho helped define the routes and made the first pickups and deliveries himself. For the communities that dont have a lot and cant afford to hire a van to drive around for pickups and deliveries, I think it means the world.Dr. Jerome Gloster, chief executive officer of Primary Care Health Services, Inc., was hopeful early on that the influx of tests would encourage anyone feeling ill to come forward, especially those lacking insurance or access to personal transportationthe very people FQHCs cater to most. Ideally, Gloster said, the free tests would help reverse the trend of poor outcomes and save lives.County data suggest it worked. Greater access to free testing helped health officials better understand the prev-alence of disease in underserved neighborhoods, accord-ing to county health officials. About 38% of FQHC tests represented people of color, and more than two thirds of those tested identified as Black. Both percentages are FullBook_Mar24.indb 53 4/25/21 6:42 PM'