CAMDEN, NJ — As the second wave of COVID-19 continues to pummel the county and South Jersey writ-large, new test sites are popping up in Camden City to make sure everyone has access to a test.

On Friday, Camden County confirmed its 636th coronavirus-related death. Officials also reported 281 new cases, for a total of 20,848.

KIPP launches COVID-19 testing

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KIPP will open its Lanning Square Gym as a free testing site Saturday, Sunday, as well as Dec. 12 and 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

While the renaissance school network has assisted the community in other ways - providing groceries and serving as meal distribution sites for students regardless of school style - it will be the first time KIPP will provide coronavirus testing.

“It has always been a priority of ours to be a resource not just for our families but for all communities,” Joe Hejlek, Director of Wraparound Services, told TAPinto Camden. “We know Camden City has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and in the southwest region of New Jersey it can be hard to get a test, so we wanted to help in every way we can.”

In order to make the site possible, the school partnered with Logistics Health Incorporated’s (LHI) OptumServe, the federal health business of Optum and UnitedHealth Group.

A KIPP spokesperson said the nasal swab tests will be conducted indoors, and the line will likely be outside in order to minimize the number of people indoors and mitigate any potential spread.

Anyone, including non-Camden residents, can access the site. Walk-ups are welcome, but visitors are advised to schedule an appointment by calling (877) 207-7571.

The address to KIPP at Lanning Square is 525 Clinton St. The gym entrance is located at Broadway and Berkley.

Those planning on getting tested should bring a valid photo ID and proof of address.

Project H.O.P.E. to open new site

Project H.O.P.E. (Homeless Outreach Program Enrichment) began testing in March - approximately ten to twenty tests per day. Now, the federally-qualified health center can screen as many as 150 people daily, with nearly 4,000 tests administered as of this week.

“The testing has been very much welcome,” Patricia DeShields, CEO of Project H.O.P.E, said in an interview. “Our patient population at the health center pre-COVID and amid COVID is mainly the homeless population or people with unstable housing situations - such as living with relatives or someone else. So we’re a really trusted healthcare provider in the area.”

The sites are open and free of charge to everyone - regardless of documentation status, place of residence or any other factors.

“We try to make it as convenient as we can. You don’t need insurance either… Nobody gets turned away,” DeShields said.

Project H.O.P.E. partners with LabCorp and the New Jersey Health Department to acquire the tests.

"At the beginning we used PCR tests, but we have since moved to self-nasal swabs,” said Project H.O.P.E.’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephanie Santoro.

Manager of Communications, Planning And Evaluation, Candy Hagamin, said arming the public with accurate information has also been vital during the health crisis.

Project H.O.P.E.’s walk-up site is located at 519-525 West Street in Camden.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8 Project H.O.P.E. will launch a new site at Joseph’s House (555 Atlantic Ave., Camden).

Although the shelter already has a system in place for testing those that stay there, DeShields said guests and staff will also have access to the site. However, the testing site will operate at a different entrance in order to lessen contact between the populations.

Both sites will operate Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (hours are subject to change based on weather and/or supply availability). Attendees should bring a form of ID and wear a face mask. You do not need to have symptoms get tested.

Other sites you can access 

The Camden County Health Department also continues to run a site at Camden County College in Cherry Hill. Learn more by clicking here.

CAMcare Health continues to announce online when and where they will be screening patients for the coronavirus as well.

The health corporation will collaborate with Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church and Rev. William Heard on Dec. 9 to screen patients and provide flu shots from 8: 30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The church is located at 831 Kaighn Ave. in Camden. To register call (856) 536-3266.

Mastery Charter Schools recently kicked off testing at McGraw Elementary. Read details here.

Have a community COVID-19 test site that's available to residents? Email information to srodas@tapinto.net.

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