NEWTON, NJ -County residents will finally be able to get tested for the coronavirus in Sussex County. On Friday afternoon County Administrator Gregory Poff announced a drive through testing site is being created on the campus of Sussex County Community College.
“Our county administration, especially County Administrator Greg Poss, County Office of Emergency Management Sheriff Mike Strada and team and our health department has worked hard, with very limited resources to stand up its own testing center,” Freeholder Josh Hertzberg said.
SCCC President Jon Connelly said, “It is a rapidly evolving situation,” and that he had met with campus staff on Thursday to discuss coordinating the site.
According to Poff’s announcement, the opening of the testing facility is contingent on the receipt of the necessary medical equipment. The details of the operations will be coming in a few days he said.
Tents will be erected on the campus in the coming days, according to Poff. Residents will be required to have symptoms and a prescription from their health care provider to be tested.
Connelly said the testing will be taking place in three parking lots for about six weeks. He said this will just be the beginning of testing in Sussex County and that “they will be finding another location in the future.”
As the students are preparing for finals, Connelly said “they are holding up well doing what we’ve never had to do before.” He said it has been “difficult for student and difficult for faculty but they have forged ahead under very difficult circumstances.”
Connelly said he learned details of the county’s plan to use the college at a weekly update meeting hosted by the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce presided over by Tammy Horsfield, attended by local elected officials including Hertzberg, Senator Steve Oroho and Congressman Josh Gottheimer.
“The speed with which they are getting this done is due to the partnerships with the Morris County officials,” Connelly said, echoing sentiments of Deputy Freeholder Director Dawn Fantasia and Hertzberg.
Under an agreement with Morris County, 75 Sussex County residents a day had access to testing at the Community College of Morris campus.
The first positive coronavirus patient was identified on March 4 in Bergen County. FEMA testing site in Bergen County opened on March 20, the first in the state. Since then more than 30 testing sites have opened throughout the state, not including testing at medical facilities.
The governor began shutting down the state incrementally beginning on March 9 with a declared State of Emergency. Since then Sussex County has had 935 positive cases of COVID-19 with 109 related deaths bringing the mortality rate to 11.65%, more than double the rate for New Jersey.
“We thank our partners Morris County and Atlantic Health Systems for assisting us in providing our Sussex County residents the testing site they deserve,” Hertzberg said. “Now we can focus our much-needed effort on safely getting our economy started again.”