BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - A partnership between the Berkeley Heights OEM and Union County brought COVID-19 testing to the Berkeley Heights senior population on Thursday, July 2.
Tony Padovano, OEM Coordinator, saw the need to provide this free testing opportunity to the vulnerable population in Berkeley Heights. He along with the OEM team set up two testing sites at Park Edge, for the residents of the 55 plus residential condo neighborhood on Springfield Avenue, and the old Church of the Little Flower location on Roosevelt Avenue for the general senior population.
The relationship with Park Edge has been a true partnership between the residents and the township's OEM. "It takes two to make this plan work," said Padovano. The Park Edge Communication Corespondents [Alicia and Debbie] make sure it all works, he said.
Padovano has been proactive to ensure the well-being of this senior population by visiting Park Edge twice a week to provide them with face masks. "We put in the guidelines even before the Governor put out the restrictions of no visitors inside. We had that well in place -- you have to protect this target audience here. -- I would come here and hand out masks twice a week." He said that if someone delivered groceries, they need to be masked up and wear gloves. "It works." Furniture was removed from the common areas to avoid social gatherings. They also placed the outdoor benches six feet apart to help the residents adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
With over 30,000 tested at the Union County COVID-19 Drive-through Test Center since the opening of the center in late March, Union County Department of Public Safety Director Andrew Moran and Kean Test Site Incident Coordinator Mike Tomich have mobilized the testing and are trying to identify places like Park Edge, where they can set up shop and test everybody at the residential complex.
Moran confirmed that across the county they are currently finding a four percent COVID positive rate. "When we started in late March, 61 percent tested positive." He explained the criteria has changed sine then. "In the beginning, so many people wanted to be tested. -- We set up a triage and said you need a prescription," so people tested were symptomatic.
The Union County COVID-19 Drive-through Test Center at Kean University remains open on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The testing is available for all Union County residents who wish to be tested, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms. For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including guidance for the Test Center, visit ucnj.org/coronavirus-update. For general information about COVID-19 and phone contacts for 24/7, assistance with questions, visit the New Jersey Department of Health at http://nj.gov/health.