CAMDEN, NJ — Camden County officials say the expansion of testing has allowed them to check more patients for the novel coronavirus, which has helped to mitigate its spread in the community.
As of Friday, two days after the county opened its second COVID-19 test site with several others running out of local hospitals, 1,808 people have come back positive for the virus (86 more in the past 24 hours).
“New cases continue to come in, but the county has fought to make testing more accessible to residents," said Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli. "Testing is critical to our understanding of how to fight this virus, and thankfully, it has never been more available to our residents than it is today. If we combine this knowledge gained with our successful social distancing practices, we will break the back of this virus and save countless lives.”
Rutgers chemistry professor Jinglin Fu is now working out of a lab in the city of Camden, which currently has the most positive cases at 404, to make the process even more efficient.
“The main problem that we want to address is an urgent need of a rapid and reliable assay that is simple and affordable for mass screening to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fu. “Right now, the diagnosis of COVID-19 is limited by the slow speed of traditional polymerase chain reaction and the inaccuracy of antibody test. Our goal is to accelerate that timetable.”
Mike Sepanic, a spokesman for the university, said Fu's virus detection process — which is still under development — is based on the patented DNA Logic-gated Proximity Assembly Circuit technology.
"According to the Rutgers–Camden researcher, the successful outcome of the research would handle various types of swabs (oral, throat, and nasal) and blood samples with a simple procedure and a rapid viral RNA read-out," he said. "The technology under development can lead to a diagnosis product for point-of-care use by health care providers to screen for emerging infectious diseases."
Moreover, there has been a recent surge of cases in the city of Camden — 34 more as of Friday.
Camden County has had 58 total deaths linked to complications from the virus so far.
“This has been an extremely difficult week for our community, this silent, insidious virus continues to wreak havoc throughout the county,” said Cappelli.