The new test will also offer faster results.
UNION COUNTY, NJ — The county’s drive-up COVID-19 testing center at Kean University will be the first in New Jersey to also test for the influenza, officials said.
Starting Monday, Nov. 2, the drive-through testing center at Kean University will offer three-panel swab test that produces results for the COVID-19 virus, Influenza A and Influenza B — all from the same swab, officials said in a news release. It is made available to Union County residents for free.
The new tests will reduce turnaround times for the results to 24 hours by the end of the month, and will be more comfortable for patients than the prior test used while testing for the viruses, which present similar symptoms, said Jessica Cohen, who is leading Union County’s testing programs along with the county’s public safety department.
“It’s a great thing that we were able to think about it first,” said Cohen, who added that processing results at the university will allow for the quicker turnaround. “Kean University already had a lab. It was 90% done.”
Previously, the county was sending its tests to be processed by a private lab, which was forced to prioritize tests sent from other states first, she said in a phone interview. The new tests also will be more comfortable because they do not require the swabs go all the way up people’s noses, Cohen said.
With the added testing capabilities the testing center will move from its existing twice-weekly schedule to a three-day-a-week schedule, officials said.
What are the test center hours?
Starting Monday, Nov. 2, the test center will be open by appointment every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. — 4 p.m. No doctor referral is required, but the site is accessible by car only.
How do I make an appointment?
To make an appointment online visit Union County’s new COVID-19 website: ucnj.org/covid19 or call 908-518-4307. The Test Center is available to all Union County residents, and to first responders and frontline health personnel who work in New Jersey. No symptoms or doctor referral are required to use the Test Center.
How long does it take to get results?
The new test will have an initial turnaround time of 48 hours, which will be phased down to just 24 hours before the end of the month, officials said.
What about flu vaccines?
In support of its COVID-19 response efforts, Union County is also offering free seasonal flu vaccines at various locations. For the schedule of upcoming flu shot drives, visit ucnj.org/covid19.
In a statement, Gov. Phil Murphy noted the partnership between Kean University and the county.
“As the flu season approaches, and cases of COVID-19 have risen at an alarming rate, Union County’s efforts to promote the safety of residents and to reduce strain on our healthcare system are remarkable and needed,” Murphy said.
Union County on Wednesday reported the second highest number of new COVID-19 cases in New Jersey at 186 people, bringing the total number of cases countywide to 20,106, according to the state Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard. The county has reported 1,206 confirmed and 168 probable deaths from coronavirus, according to the state’s figures.
Union County’s drive-through test center has provided free COVID-19 tests to over 60,000 Union County residents, first responders and front-line health personnel working in New Jersey since opening on March 23, officials said.
The county makes the testing available regardless of people’s health insurance status, Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella noted.
“The new three-panel swab will be an important part of our efforts to help ensure that every resident has quick, reliable access to information about their exposure to COVID-19 and other potentially lethal viruses that are especially prone to spread at this time of year, regardless of their financial situation or their health insurance status,” Mirabella said in the statement.
Kean University President Lamont O. Repollet said he is proud of the partnership.
“As demand for testing increases, we remain steadfast in our shared commitment to defeat this virus and protect public health,” Repollet added.
For more information, visit the county’s COVID-19 website: ucnj.org/covid19