HEALTH

Walmart, pharmacists to expand New Jersey COVID-19 testing

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

New Jersey’s road back from the coronavirus will wind through the state’s 2,200 pharmacies.

Yaz Shah is one of New Jersey’s 18,000 licensed pharmacists now permitted to order and administer COVID-19 tests without a prescription. For customers, it means finding testing sites. As the state attorney general says, it will be as easy as walking to the corner drug store.

“The road to getting New Jersey back to being fully, which is a goal here, is testing – diagnostic testing and antibody testing,” Shah said. “As health care providers, the pharmacists are the most accessible to the public.”

Hudson Drug in Cresskill is opting for customers come curbside, swab themselves, take the samples and put them in a box for a lab to pick up. The samples are then screened before delivering back results.

“Knowledge is the most important thing. Being able to know if you’re positive or negative, whether you have or don’t have it, who you’ve been in contact with,” Shah said.

“Certainly a strong testing program is one of the foundational principles for our state’s road back to restart and recovery. And while we have set a goal for the capacity to conduct 20,000 tests per day by the end of this month, which by the way is a week from Sunday. As I have said, this is a floor and not the ceiling. We’re going to continue building the partnerships necessary for us to keep building out our testing program.

The governor announced Wednesday new testing partners — Quest Diagnostics and Walmart. Self-testing will be available by appointment three days a week at locations in Garfield, North Bergen, Kearny, Flemington, Burlington, Howell and Mount Laurel.

Testing for the vulnerable and frontline workers are the state’s priority. The state health commissioner said more than 100,000 residents and staff members have been tested at long-term care, psychiatric, intellectual and developmental facilities and in urban centers and on farms.

“Plans are underway to bring mobile testing to populations, and also pop-up sites, to these underserved areas in our densely populated cities. As I said yesterday, there are more than 140 testing locations available in the state. I encourage residents to get tested,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

“The more testing we can do, the more we can do to flatten the curve,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.

At Hudson Drug, one doctor welcomed the state expanding COVID-19 testing.

“This is something that the towns had been doing, and now that we have additional test-taking capability, we should do in the pharmacies, too, because people are afraid to come the doctor’s offices, or the hospitals or to testing centers. And this expands the number of places where people can come and find out if they’ve been infected with the COVID-19 infection,” said Dr. Walter Klein from Park Medical Group.

Shah says expect results in a day.

TOPIC: HEALTH