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How is New Jersey increasing access to COVID-19 testing?
Expanding access to COVID-19 testing is a core principle of New Jersey's recovery plan for promoting public health and restoring economic health. New Jersey is:
- increasing diagnostic testing capacity;
- ensuring testing for health care workers, essential personnel, and vulnerable populations;
- creating a flexible testing plan accessible to all residents;
- expanding partnerships with institutions of higher education, private-sector labs, and the federal government; and
- ensuring that those who test positive are linked to a health care provider.
New Jersey will double its testing capacity and increase to at least 20,000 tests per day by the end of May. This capacity will be built out moving forward with a minimum of 25,000 tests completed per day by the end of June.
Making Testing Accessible to All Residents
Testing is available to everyone in New Jersey. Anyone who wants a COVID-19 diagnostic test, can now get one at any of the 250+ testing sites across New Jersey.
To help meet this demand, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal along with the Division of Consumer Affairs, has authorized the more than 18,000 licensed pharmacists in New Jersey to administer FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 tests to their customers.
Moreover, the Division's order allows for these tests to be given without a prescription, and removes the requirement that pharmacists enter into explicit collaborative practice agreements with a physician.
Please check with your local pharmacy to see if they are offering tests and whether an appointment is required. To find a testing site near you, visit covid19.nj.gov/testing
Testing Vulnerable Populations, Health Care Workers, and Essential Personnel
New Jersey has ensured access to testing for vulnerable populations, including residents in long-term care facilities and developmental centers, individuals in the corrections system, those in homeless shelters, patients in psychiatric hospitals, and seasonal farmworkers. The State testing program will also ensure ready access for frontline health care workers, first responders, and transit workers.
- All residents/patients and staff at long-term care facilities must be tested by May 26, with retesting of individuals who test negative within 3-7 days after baseline testing, and further retesting in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidance. As of June 5, over 90% of facilities have reported their testing data.
- The Department of Corrections has completed universal baseline testing of staff, inmates, and residents at all Corrections Facilities, Residential Release Programs, and Assessment Centers.
- All residents in the State's Developmental Centers have been tested and all staff are expected to be tested soon.
- Universal baseline testing of all residents and staff has been completed at State Veterans Homes– Paramus, Menlo Park, and Vineland.
- As of June 5, universal testing of patients at State Psychiatric Hospitals has been completed and universal testing of staff is underway.
- The Departments of Health, Labor, and Agriculture, with Federally Qualified Health Centers, have developed a plan and are working with farms across the state to test seasonal farm workers.
- New Jersey will utilize mobile testing units to directly serve communities of color, the homeless, and underserved residents, and will open testing sites within institutions of faith, including churches, synagogues, and mosques.
- All NJ TRANSIT employees will also soon have access to COVID-19 testing at the American Dream site in East Rutherford, with plans to expand access to similar testing sites in Central and South Jersey.
Partnering with Institutions of Higher Education, Private-Sector Labs, and the Federal Government
New Jersey is partnering with federal partners, private labs, and with universities.
Rutgers University has developed a new saliva-based testing system. On May 7, the FDA approved the test for at-home saliva collection. The State is directing $6 million in federal funding to Rutgers to boost their test production capabilities from 10,000 tests per day to 50,000 per day.
The State is partnering with the private sector to increase the availability of COVID-19 testing in New Jersey. Testing for COVID-19 is being performed in the state by both LabCorp and BioReference Laboratories, enhancing access to testing for state residents.
On April 30, the State announced it would receive 550,000 new COVID-19 test kits and 750,000 swabs from the federal government.
Previously, the State announced the acquisition of 15 point-of-care Abbot ID NOW testing instruments from the federal government to expand access to COVID-19 testing in New Jersey. The portable, rapid testing machines will be dispersed to health care systems throughout the state and are able to test for COVID-19 and process specimens in approximately 5-13 minutes.
Source: Governor's Remarks; http://d31hzlhk6di2h5.cloudfront.net/20200427/db/2d/77/6c/2a8a498ff2edda855c3f456d/The_Road_Back_-_Restoring_Economic_Health_Through_Public_Health.pdf; https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200512a.shtml; Governor's Remarks 5/19/20; Health Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 6/5/20