HACKENSACK, N.J. — A successful launch of last Friday’s opening of the state’s first-ever, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-backed drive-thru testing center for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at Bergen Community College in Paramus has prompted Bergen County to initiate work on a second test site.
Last Friday’s launch has ushered in more than 1,000 individuals — a feat that has influenced the county to open a second to continue to curb the spread of the potentially deadly virus. There are currently more than 400 cases of coronavirus in Bergen County and five fatalities.
The county is currently in the process of logistical planning, and anticipates a start-date of the operation this sometime this weekend, county officials said.
Mobile testing will be administered on an appointment-only basis and will be limited to Bergen County residents with priority given to first-responders and health care workers. Testing will also be administered to Bergen County residents screened and prescribed through Telehealth system/medical professionals.
“To address the increasing demand, Bergen County is working on setting up a County-controlled test site,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco in a news release. “Providing greater access for our residents, especially those on the front lines, will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The County remains steadfast to promoting the health and well-being of our residents.”
Tedesco is working remotely and currently self-quarantined per the instruction of the Bergen County Health Officer as a precaution after he attended a press conference with an individual who is COVID-19-positive. Tedesco remains in “constant communication” with federal, state and local officials, county administration and staff.
Additionally, the Bergen County Jail is currently placed under lockdown protocol after a 31-year-old Mexican national in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody tested presumptive-positive for COVID-19 at Hackensack University Medical Center earlier this week.
The individual is under quarantine in the jail and receiving medical care. All other inmates and ICE detainees are being monitored. Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton has placed the Hackensack jail to be placed under lockdown protocol, which includes the following:
- Limiting movements of county inmates, ICE detainees and staff;
- Allowing the movement of detainees from their cells, two at a time;
- Opening a COVID-19 isolation unit for county inmates and ICE detainees who are presumed positive;
- Continuing attorney non-contact visits with their clients; disinfecting the premises with bleach-based solution, and;
- Suspending intake from U.S. Immigrations Customs and Enforcement until further notice.
Last week, a Bergen County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer employed at the Bergen County Jail tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, the officer was ordered to self-quarantine for two weeks. Seven corrections officers who were in close contact with the officer were also ordered to self-quarantine out of precaution.
“With the spread of this virus, it has become increasingly clear that those who are dedicated to serving in public capacities during this health crisis including law enforcement and healthcare professionals are at greater risk of exposure,” said Sheriff Cureton. “The fact of the matter is, inmates and detainees are less likely to contract COVID-19 than the general public since the jail is a self-contained environment. However, staff at the jail is taking all necessary steps to mitigate exposure from this single incident.”