FRANKLIN, NJ – Through a collaborative effort, free COVID and antibody testing is being offered in the Township of Franklin. The 'Get Tested Franklin' program, which kicked off July 27, will be run at various locations within the community over the coming week. 

"Our goal is to test at least one person in every household. We’d love to get the entire township. That is our goal and that is what we’re going to strive for,” Mayor Phil Kramer said during a July 23 virtual Town Hall meeting to announce the program.

The 'Get Tested Franklin' program is being offered in partnership with the Franklin Township Interfaith Council, Mercy International Nurses’ Association, Interfaith Urgent Care, and Gov. Phil Murphy's office with support locally from Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17th L.D.).

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“This is a significant moment in time within the pandemic. It is significant because we have brought together a coalition - a small army of people from every corner of our community to deliver a service that is incredibly needed within our community,” said Danielsen during the virtual town hall meeting, noting that the virus hit Franklin 'hard’ and ‘fast.’ "As the virus was spreading it became apparent that testing was limited." 

Through the partnership, one may be tested for either COVID-19, its antibodies, or both at a variety of locations through Aug. 7; testing takes between 10 and 15 minutes with results provided within three to seven days. Additionally, one does not need to be exhibiting symptoms; in fact, township leaders are strongly recommending that those who are not showing signs of COVID get tested.

“…COVID testing is not for those who are sick [or] for those who know they have the virus,” stated Danielson during the July 23 virtual town hall meeting. “COVID testing is for everyone…people who are perfectly healthy, who have no symptoms and have no reasons to believe they have the virus…and could be potentially spreading [it]."

Kramer, a physican, agrees. "What makes this virus so insidious is that so many people can be asymptomatic and spread the disease to others. The rough estimate is that 40-percent of people are asymptomatic and the only way to determine that is to be tested," he said, adding, "You need to assume that everyone you come in contact with has it and could give it to you and you also need to assume that you have it and could possibly give it to someone else." 

The first of seven scheduled testing days was held this past Monday with a total of 546 residents between the ages of 2 and 94 years old visiting the St. Matthiast Catholic Church site. At this time, more than three-dozen medical professionals from Interfaith Urgent Care conducted the COVID and antibody testing as well as checked vitals, including blood pressure, temperature, and blood oxygen levels. A physician was also on site to check the lungs of anyone exhibiting issues. 

"I visited the site myself and was very impressed with how it was all run. Everything was done extremely professionally and was well organized and safe with social distancing rules followed," Kramer said. 

"The operation ran very smooth with little waiting time," added Alex Kharazi, president of the Franklin Township Interfaith Council. "People are really taking this seriously and our goal is to make sure that everyone has an easy way to get tested." 

Over the coming week, additional testing sites will be set up throughout the township. On Friday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. those seeking to be tested may visit the former Consolata Mission, 2301 Route 27 and, on Saturday, Aug. 1 and Sunday, Aug. 2, testing will be conducted from noon to 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, 771 Somerset Street. 

Next week, testing will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug 4 at Kendall Park Baptist Church, 3583 Route 27, Franklin Park; Wednesday, Aug. 5 at the Jain Center of New Jersey, 111 Cedar Grove Lane; and on Friday, Aug. 7 at Middlebush Reformed Church, 1 South Middlebush Road.  

Appointments for testing at any of the aforementioned sites are not required but are strongly encouraged and can be made online at https://www.friendlycovid.com/pages/Franklin-Township; walk-in will be accepted. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian. Additionally, no prescriptions are required and, for those with insurance, there is no deductible or co-pay; for those who don’t have insurance, testing is free and funded through a federal grant. 

"No insurance, no problem. No money, no problem. No symptoms, no problem," stated Kramer. "Our goal is to turn no one away… the virus doesn’t know about the double yellow line on Route 27. We will test anyone who comes in so that we can help wipe out this virus everywhere."

"We are about to open schools and I want that to be successful and I want that to be safe," added the mayor. "If we can identify those who are infected and stop them from spreading this virus then we can drive our numbers way down."

For additional information on the ‘Get Tested Franklin’ program email abcovidtesting@gmail.com or visit the Township of Franklin website at http://www.franklinwpnj.org.

Photos by local photographer Marilyn Parente her work can be found at photoscribblings.com.

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