OC Health Department moves closer to adding drive-thru testing site
The Ocean County Health Department has moved a step closer to opening up a Covid-19 drive-thru testing site on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River where Ocean County residents are encouraged to get a doctor's prescription to use the service.
This news comes as Ocean County has recorded 321 positive cases of the coronavirus including 141 cases in Lakewood Township alone as of Thursday morning.
Ocean County residents who are showing signs of the virus or who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus should contact their doctor immediately to see if they need to be tested in the first place.
“We are not going to do any health screening at the site. It is just for testing for the virus," Ocean County Public Health Coordinator Daniel Regenye said. "If you can be tested before we open the site I would strongly urge you to do so."
Once opened (at a date TBA), the prescription along with proper identification/proof of residency and registration will be required to get tested at OCC.
“Residents will remain in their cars and hospital medical personnel will perform a nasal swab,” Ocean County Freeholder Gerry Little, who is liaison to the Ocean County Health Department, said. “We are working to make this convenient and more importantly safe for the public, the health care providers on site and our staff that will be there.”
The site will be set up to test about 180 people per day which means even though it may say they're open for a set period of time like 9 am to 5 pm for example, that doesn't mean they'll stay open that long as drive-thru's at the PNC Bank Arts Center and Bergen Community College have proven.
“We will be adhering to the strict requirements for getting a test at this site,” Ocean County Sheriff Mastronardy said. “If you haven’t registered and if you don’t have a doctor’s prescription we cannot provide you with a test. I cannot stress this enough.”
The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department will be providing security and traffic control at the site and the staff from the hospitals will be administering the test at the drive thru.
The testing site will be overseen by the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management.
“We are working closely with all other agencies involved to make certain everything goes smoothly," Sheriff Mastronardy said. “We are doing everything we can to have safeguards in place to protect the nurses and medical personnel on site and the public coming to be tested. We strongly urge the public to adhere to the requirements we have established.”
Once the test has been performed, it’s anticipated to take about three to five days for results to be returned.
“All the results will come back to the Ocean County Health Department and residents will be notified whether they test positive or negative,” Regenye said.
Ocean County has entered into a contract with BioReference Laboratories for the first 1,000 coronavirus test kits to be used at the site. The county’s contract is independent of the state’s contract with the company.
The most common symptoms of COVID 19 are fever, fatigue, a dry cough and shortness of breath.
Health experts say individuals not experiencing any signs or symptoms of a respiratory illness are discouraged from being tested as it diverts resources away from those who need it most, floods the laboratory with specimens unlikely to test positive and provides individuals with a false sense of security when the results come back negative.
Ocean County will also establish a process to ensure that people with test results are informed in a timely manner and provided with guidance, consultation and next steps.
“Learning whether you have coronavirus is just the first step,” Regenye said. “We want you to have the proper follow up care also.”
The testing site at Ocean County College drive-thru would follow similar set ups at the PNC Bank Arts Center on the Garden State Parkway in Holmdel at the Jersey Shore as well as William Paterson University and Bergen Community College with an additional one opening in Passaic County just yesterday.
The testing site for Ocean County residents stems from the combined efforts of Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management under the direction of Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, the Ocean County Health Department, Ocean County College, Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and Hackensack Meridian Health.
“A testing site on the campus of Ocean County College is an extraordinarily important step which will make testing more accessible to Ocean County residents who perhaps need it the most - senior citizens and others at higher risk. Currently, testing is a prerequisite for certain medicines including remdesivir and the sooner people can get tests and results the more options they will have for treatment,” Congressman Smith, who represents several towns in northern Ocean County, said.
“The drive thru testing site will help with our large senior population and those residents who have been advised to be tested for the coronavirus," Ocean County Freeholder Director Joe Vicari said. “With the help and guidance of Congressman Smith we will also be assisted by Quest Diagnostics for some supplemental testing kits."