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Greater PA Chamber linking small businesses to free coronavirus testing

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is preparing to launch a program allowing small businesses to test their employees for the coronavirus at no cost to the business.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management is teaming with chambers across the state to help small business owners and increase the amount of testing.

Joe Tant, financial manager for the chamber, is one of the testing administrators, along with Mariah Perez.

Our area is underserved, underprivileged,” Tant said. “I think 84 percent of all of our school-aged kids are on reduced or free meals. It’s an area that has been ravaged by hurricanes and COVID. For a lot of our small business, every dollar counts. The average testing can cost from $100-$250. It is expensive.”

Tant expects to launch the program this month.

“We are hoping earlier rather than later,” he said. “I would say we are 90, maybe even 95, percent ready to start launching this out.”

Tant said the chamber has 2,100 kits in its possession, which could serve approximately 68 businesses. The BinaxNow kits use contactless testing, he said. Once chamber officials give out 70 percent of the kits, they will be eligible to reorder.

“It takes 15-20 minutes to get the test done,” Tant said. “We really hope this will take the financial burden off small businesses. The more testing we do, the more information we know and the more we can fight this virus and get everyone back to hanging out on the weekends.”

Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Pat Avery said the program helps protect small businesses finically and physically.

“(Tant) and several of the staff had to take a statewide test to understand what their roles and responsibilities are,” she said. “The focus is on small businesses that can’t afford to send their entire staff to be tested somewhere if someone gets sick. They can do this quick test themselves and protect themselves and their employees.”

Only five-star accredited chambers are pegged to help with the effort.

“You have to know what you are doing and you have to have your resources in place because this is serious,” Tant said.

In the coming days, Avery is going to begin reaching out to small businesses connected with the chamber that would be interested. Small businesses owners that are interested in participating can email Tant directly at acct@portarthurtexas.com.

“You do not have to be a medical expert to do some of these tests,” Tant said. “I know a lot of folks are scared of that. We have the safety measures and instructions in place. The person can do their own test without any other interaction really, which makes it super safe to do.”

For more coverage, read https://www.panews.com/2021/02/05/photo-feature-port-arthur-vaccine-effort-could-require-larger-location/