Testing, testing, testing

COVID-19. Negotiating the coronavirus testing terrain can be confusing. Some sites have shut down and some have gone mobile. Some have come with conditions, some are open to all. We’ve researched the availability of tests in the area and who meets the criteria for getting one.

| 30 Jun 2020 | 03:49

More than three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have “flattened the curve” of infection. They did this by following Centers for Disease Control instructions to deal with this contagious virus: washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks, along with a prolonged shutdown.

And that’s good news. However, with the number of virus cases rising in half the states in the country, it serves as a warning not to let up on the tactics that brought us to this point.

Testing is considered a vital tool in keeping the virus under control. What experts have learned is that many people show no symptoms of having the virus, yet they are carriers. Many state- or county-sponsored testing sites have closed recently.

Testing centers close

Numbers throughout New Jersey have slowed tremendously, which had led to the closing of some testing sites.

In New Jersey, the testing center at Sussex County Community College closed on June 19. In Passaic County, the site at William Paterson College in Wayne closed on June 20.

“The demand for tests at our county testing center has dropped to a point where we have to consider the allocation of our already limited resources and staff,” said Sussex County Freeholder Anthony Fasano in a June 16 press release.

Sussex County Administrator Gregory Poff said he negotiated an agreement with Morris County to allow Sussex County residents to test at the County College of Morris (CCM) testing site after the Sussex County site closed. However, the CCM site, too, is closed, as of June 26.

Where testing is available

According to the press release, 328 tests were performed at the SCCC site from May 8 through June 10. On June 10, 10 tests were performed and 11 were scheduled for June 12.

“If we believe there is a demand,” Poff said, “we will reconsider the closure.”

Poff said the county did not consider testing asymptomatic residents. Only people with COVID-19 symptoms and a prescription were tested at the SCCC site. And that seems to be the case with other available testing.

Testing in Sussex County is available at private doctors’ offices, urgent care offices, and CVS pharmacies in both Sparta and Byram.

CVS requires that those wishing to be tested answer an online questionnaire about their symptoms and proximity to people who already have the virus. Only those who have symptoms or have been within six feet of someone who tested positive for the virus qualify. Poff said there is no fee for the CVS test.

On the road in Passaic County

In Passaic County, COVID-19 testing has hit the road, with a scheduled stop in each municipality throughout the county between June and July. This testing is also free.

The Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders has a pop-up mobile testing site that will stop in each municipality for a full day of on-site testing.

On June 17, Camp Hope on Union Valley Road in West Milford, provided free testing to anyone requesting it, even without symptoms or proximity to positive cases. One more mobile testing event is scheduled at Manchester Regional High School, 70 Church Street in Haledon, on Wednesday, July 8.

Testing is available for any Passaic County resident with identification. Health insurance is not required. You should bring a phone or tablet for registration. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the first hour is dedicated to first responders and healthcare workers in Passaic County.

These mobile sites test patients using the saliva test, which has the same effectiveness as the nose swab test. No eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum are allowed 30 minutes prior to testing. Results are available 48 to 72 hours after the test.

Passaic County is also offering free, at-home saliva test kits. To register for an at-home testing kit, go to passaiccountycares.org. You must have a driver’s license or state ID to qualify.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy said the state is hiring more than 230 additional contact tracers to continue the fight against COVID-19. The state has 900 tracers already trained and working throughout the state.