PATERSON, NJ - On the same day testing for COVID-19 started for senior citizens in six sites across Paterson, and one day after more than 200 residents get tested at the city’s first drive thru site at Barnert Medical Arts Complex, Mayor Andre Sayegh announced a new testing site in South Paterson.

Starting Wednesday, Aqel Medical Center, located at 37-43 Crooks Avenue, will offer testing free testing, Monday through Friday, between 12:00 p.m and 5:00 p.m. The testing will be by appointment only.

Overseeing the nasal swab testing, conducted by medical students, will be Dr. Mahmoud Aqel.

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Aqel started his remarks by acknowledging that today is Giving Tuesday, and that we are also in the midst of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Both occasions, he said, are reminders to “be more generous and to give more.”

“We are glad to announce that we are going to serve our community by providing testing,” Aqel said, adding that the tests will be analyzed by Bioreference Laboratories in Englewood.

To date, Aqel said, his practice has treated approximately 400 patients impacted by coronavirus. The number of cases locally, he believes, is exaggerated because of what Sayegh would refer to “suboptimal” living conditions allowing for the virus to take over an entire household. Aqel punctuated this point by sharing that he has dealt with one household that included 12 positive patients.

Sayegh clarified that while the site was not city run it was “city supported,” and an initiative that he hopes to see more of to continue to increase testing capabilities locally, including through a potential partnership with St. Joseph’s Health.

Asked by one reporter about the prospect of opening businesses before Memorial Day, as has been suggested recently by former Governor Chris Christie, Sayegh offered again that he is “looking at data, not dates.”

“I’m struggling with small businesses suffering,” Sayegh said before saying again he will “follow the facts” not his feelings in future decisions.

Those seeking testing should call 862-257-1760 or 973-685-9922 to make an appointment.

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