PARAMUS, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco helped launch the opening of New Jersey’s first drive-thru testing site for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Friday afternoon at Bergen Community College in partnership with The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Since its March 20 opening, the testing site for COVID-19, the potentially deadly virus that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has already reached maximum capacity and will reopen on Monday, March 23.

Testing at BCC is free, and will be covered by the federal government or personal insurance company; patients are asked to bring their proof of insurance with them if they have them on hand. 

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The coronavirus has topped 300,000 cases worldwide, with a death toll topping 13,000.

As of Saturday, Bergen County alone has 363 presumptive-positive cases — the most out of every county in the state with five fatalities. The testing site at 400 Paramus Road is open strictly to anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of the virus, which include cold and flu-like symptoms.

At the opening on Friday, Governor Murphy said “testing is critical” to save lives.

“The more testing we implement, the better we will be able to track the scope of the spread of coronavirus, which will allow us to take even more focused action to flatten out the curve and mitigate the spread,” said Murphy. 

Staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey National Guard, the drive-thru testing center will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eligible patients include New Jersey residents and those experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness.

Patients who exhibit signs of cough, a fever of 99.6 degrees Farenheight and above, and shortness of breath. 

Each testing site is equipped with 2,500 specimen collection kits and Personal Protective Equipment for all staff. The specimen collections will be transmitted to the contracted laboratory twice daily; the results will be obtained between two and five days. 

Currently, Teaneck leads with the highest number of cases at 97. Bergenfield, Englewood, Fair Lawn, Ridgewood and Hackensack follow with the highest number of cases at 23, 23, 16, 12 and 11, respectively. 

Murphy said out of New Jersey’s 11 deaths from COVID-19, nine of the cases were comorbid, meaning the patients had overlapping health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He encouraged people to stay home as much as possible, to practice frequent hand washing and social distancing.

“You may unwittingly carry that virus and infect a member of a generation which is much more likely to suffer the grave consequences of this virus,“ said Murphy. “We can’t allow that to happen.”  

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said stress on the local health care systems are building “exponentially” and a “surge” in cases are expected.

This past weekend, the staff in the Emergency Room at Englewood Hospital were spread thin since the early morning hours to cater to patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected of carrying the virus. These patients were quarantined in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. While some physicians have said people who contract the virus are more likely to die from it if they are in their older age or have underlying health conditions, others say that is not entirely the case, depending upon the person’s immune system. 

“We’re going to get through this,” said Murphy at the opening at BCC on Friday. “I say that unequivocally. And we’re going to get through it together. Not unscathed, but with a few bumps in the road. Let there be no doubt we will get through this together, but it requires each one of the 9 million of us around the state to do their share.”

On Saturday, Governor Murphy followed suit with the state mandates in California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania and issued a stay-at-home order for almost all of New Jersey’s 9 million residents to combat the fast and stealthy spread of coronavirus. 

Beginning yesterday at 9 p.m., Garden State residents must remain at home and all nonessential businesses must close indefinitely. Large gatherings including weddings, parties and in-person services of any kind are canceled until further notice.