RANDOLPH, NJ — More than 800 people received free COVID-19 tests on the first day of Morris County’s reopened COVID-19 testing site. Officials believe the site, which opened Monday, will administer 800-900 tests daily for at least the coming week and beyond until the surge in COVID-19 cases weakens.
Selen’s remarks came as he and other officials toured the facility, housed in the Student Center at the County College of Morris in Randolph. Phlebotomists with LabQ Diagnostics administered the tests, which involve LabQ PCR nasal swabs.
Patients were advised that the national demand for testing has inundated laboratories and delayed analysis. So results that would typically become available in 24 to 48 hours may take more than three days to obtain.
The center is open seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., except from 12:30-1 p.m. Testing is appointment-only, and they must be scheduled at Morris County’s COVID-19 information webpage. No one can walk into the facility without an appointment.
Scott DiGiralomo, right, led a tour Monday of the Morris County’s reopened testing facility. With him were Sheriff James Gannon, Commissioner Director Tayfun Selen and Commissioner John Krickus. Pictured behind Director Selen is Steve Ackerman. (Morris County photo)
Morris County previously operated a testing center in the same location, but officials closed it in July as tests became more accessible and demand waned. The site’s reopening came as the state’s case totals continue to soar.
The New Jersey Department of Health announced 21,691 — less than Sunday’s reported total of 26,615 cases and Saturday’s count of 29,564 infections, but well above any of the state’s pre-omicron-variant case numbers.
On a Friday conference call, representatives from local hospitals told county leadership and Morris County mayors that the center will help reduce emergency-room pressures brought on by people trying to get tested at hospitals. Atlantic Health System and Saint Clare’s Health also said most people needing hospitalization for COVID-19 never received the booster shot.
“Get your booster shot,” said County Commissioner John Krickus. “That was the clear message from the Atlantic Health System when we had an update call on Friday. Less than 5 percent of the COVID patients they are seeing have received their booster shot, and almost always the boosted patients have underlying conditions and often are elderly. Atlantic Health System indicated they have ICU capacity available, but booster shots are the key.”
Officials have seen a similar trend statewide. New Jersey has seen a higher percentage of infections among people who are fully vaccinated, as breakthrough infections represented 31,334 of New Jersey’s 101,000 cases from Dec. 20-26. But fully vaccinated individuals represented a far small portion of those hospitalized with COVID-19 (four of 2,640) and people who died from the virus (five of 146) in that span.
Only 43.5 percent of Morris County’s fully vaccinated population have received their booster dose, including only 47.5 percent of adults — the primary age group eligible for the booster — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See info on booster eligibility from the CDC.
Eleven people in Morris County have died from COVID-19 in the past week, according to the CDC.