ROXBURY, NJ - At-home and mobile COVID-19 testing programs for residents and workers will be available within the next week, Morris County announced today.
The programs are a reaction to an increase in the number of new cases in the county, correlating with a spike in the virus statewide, said officials. Roxbury saw the number of COVID-19 cases increase by 57 since Oct. 27 and of the 485 reported cases since the pandemic began in the spring, 22 people died, said Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo on Tuesday.
Freeholder Director Deborah Smith pointed to the Morris County COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, formed to develop strategies to assist businesses and communities overcome pandemic impacts.
“Our task force saw, weeks ago, that our cases were starting to increase, and we asked our Department of Law and Public Safety to begin preparing a plan for new testing in the event a second wave of the pandemic," she said. "It appears we are there.”
In a statement, the county said the purpose of the expanded testing is to:
- Identify Asymptomatic Individuals
- Increase Test Availability for Symptomatic Individuals
- Detect Clusters or Outbreaks
- Provide Trending Data for Proactive Measures
Still Building the Portal
The at-home testing will be the first phase, but Morris County is not ready to go live with it quite yet, said the statement.
It said the testing will involve going to the county website and accessing an online portal. The county still is in the process of developing the portal.
"Please do not call the county or your municipal officials at this point," said the statement. When the portal is active, information will be shared with the public.
“Once the at home testing is up and running, we will begin mobile testing, said Scott DiGiralomo, director of the county Department of Law and Public Safety, who briefed municipal leaders in a phone conference yesterday. "Our hope is within the next week or two we will have everything ready. The goal is that there will be no out-of-pocket cost
s to Morris County residents for this testing.”
The costs will be covered by individual insurance plans, federal aid and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding the county secured in August, according to Morris County Freeholder Douglas Cabana, the board liaison to Law and Public Safety.
“The federal money we received will reimburse Morris County for the response efforts we launched with our own funding at the start of the pandemic, including the drive-through testing station we set up at the County College of Morris (CCM)," Cabana said. "The remaining dollars should help us continue testing through the year.”
The drive-through testing site at CCM will not be reactivated at this time, said the county.
Nobody Gets Billed
It said the on-line portal for at-home testing will enable people to determine whether to order a nasal or a saliva test and schedule at-home delivery of testing kits, the county said. "Individuals will be required to provide their insurance information, Medicare or Medicaid data, or indicate that they are uninsured," it said. "However, no one will be billed for accessing the tests."
The nasal swab, restricted to those 18 and older, is already available to the public through LabCorp and known as their Pixel test. It will be shipped overnight to people, who will be instructed how to take samples and return-mail them in a prepaid package. Results generally are available within 48 hours of receipt by the testing company, said the county.
The other test, provided by Vault Health, is a saliva test developed by Rutgers University, the county said. It too will be shipped to an individual’s home overnight. "There is no age restriction, but guardians and parents must obtain the sample while participating in a tele-visit by computer or phone with an advisor at Vault," the county said. "The advisor will guide participants on how to conduct the test and return it through the mail."
Currently, participants will be allowed only two tests per month. Those who test positive will be directed to contact a healthcare provider and will be called by a contact tracer, the county said.
The county said it will deploy mobile testing units in cooperation with local health authorities, particularly in areas where outbreaks are being detected or suspected. "Vulnerable populations, including people without healthcare in Dover and Morristown, will be among the first targeted for testing in cooperation with Zufall Health Center."
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