FEMA-backed Drive-through Coronavirus Testing Coming to NJ
New Jersey is one of 12 states that will be getting novel coronavirus testing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state officials said Monday.
During a news conference update in Trenton, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan said Jersey is getting two novel coronavirus 'PODs', or points of distribution, that that FEMA will completely support.
“One is going to be in Bergen County at Bergen County Community College, and the second one at this junction is anticipated to be at in Monmouth County, right off the Parkway at the PNC Arts Center," he said.
He said that “from the tents to the PPE (personal protective equipment) to the testing kits, all of that is coming from FEMA, and those supplies from those points of distribution will be replenished weekly by FEMA.”
He said these are two “strategic locations that will allow drive-through testing that will be “easy in and out.”
“The anticipated time of them being up and functional is still an unknown that we’re working through, but very soon," he said.
Gov. Phil Murphy said testing capacity is being ramped up and “the big volume of tests are now being done by private sector, non-Department of Health, whether they be literally private sector of hospital systems.”
Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics are both authorized to conduct coronavirus tests, but don't take walk-in clients for them. Samples are collected by health providers and then sent to the labs.
Secaucus was the site of New Jersey's first drive-through testing facility, offered by private health care provider Riverside Medical Group, by appointment only.
Judy Persichilli, the New Jersey health commissioner, said the involvement of FEMA is a big plus because “we’re trying to preserve as much PPE as we can from our own stockpile, for particularly hospitals.”
Murphy said the FEMA "PODs" will be able to handle up to about 2,000 patients a day. Persichilli said “one of the reference labs told us they could handle up to 5,000 tests a day.
"These are high frequency labs," she said. "They can process a lot of tests.”
She stressed in order for people to be tested for novel coronavirus they still need to pass screening — which means a medical provider has determined they have symptoms that indicate a test is appropriate.
Callahan also said a FEMA incident management team will help with planning.