Burlington County works around the clock responding to COVID-19 cases

Gangemi voiced support for the county's communicable disease staff for their efforts during and before the pandemic.

More positive cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in Burlington County as health department employees dedicate efforts to protecting the public. 

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Communicable disease staff at the county Health Department has been preparing for pandemics, such as the current COVID-19 one, as part of their daily tasks, said Nicholas Gangemi, spokesman for the county. 

“Burlington County will be providing drive-thru testing for residents,” he shared.

The health department does training throughout the year, running Point-of-Distribution (POD) sites with the assistance of its Medical Reserve Corps, law enforcement and healthcare partners. 

November was the most recent practice drill for the county as they worked with the Tabernacle Office of Emergency Management and Seneca High School to conduct a drive thru flu shot clinic, of which Tabernacle’s OEM Director Bob Sunbury said was a success. 

Gangemi added the county has been reviewing and learning from the testing sites throughout the state to provide an efficient one in Burlington. 

No word was given on where and when future sites will be in the county. 

Echoing Governor Phil Murphy’s comment on more positives arising from the sites, Gangemi asked for the public to not conflate the positives or cause panic. 

“With an increased number of tests taking place, we are getting a more accurate picture of how the virus is spreading through the community,” he explained.

More positive tests, he clarified, does not mean it is getting worse in the county. It means staffers are improving “their understanding with each day.”

As of deadline, the county has at least 20 cases, with more to come as the health department verifies tests. 

Communicable disease staff, like other medical professionals, are facing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) to remain on the front lines. The county, Gangemi mentioned, is working to obtain such required equipment and seeks to have professionals at the sites fully protected before coming in contact with the disease. 

Professionals work with positive COVID-19 residents, each hour, to learn where they went so others can be informed. 

“Our communicable disease staff has been working around the clock on this, and they do an amazing job with what they do,” he said.

Staffers are all trained professionals who have had experience with diseases. 

The spokesman urged the public to retain contact with their primary care physicians if they experience mild COVID-19 symptoms. 

Primary care providers can then refer patients to private labs (such as LabCorp) for testing. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said symptoms of the virus include a mixture of fever, persistent dry cough and shortness of breath. 

The federal agency and the county urges people to call for an ambulance if they experience symptoms such as, but not limited to, “troubled breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.”

More information can be found by visiting Coronavirus.gov. 

Gangemi said those with mild cases can often accomplish recovery with a 14-day self-quarantine, fluids and rest. 

Residents are encouraged to call their physicians if they experience any symptoms to learn next steps in their health. 

For further information on the recovery process of mild cases, read The Sun’s coverage in the article titledDoctors: ‘We want to protect everyone’.”

While the county finalizes its plans for the pop-up testing site, Gangemi shared offices of emergency management coordinators are familiar with tracking disaster-related expenditures, and will submit a reimbursement to the federal government at the end of the health crisis. 

Many of the expenses related to the virus, however, can be reimbursed federally. 

The reimbursement in question surrounds bills floating between the chambers of Congress on funds for states to create and conduct test sites. Reimbursement, however, could take time to be dispersed. 

“Call your local Congressman to get the bills passed,” Gangemi urged. 

Burlington County is represented in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Representatives Andy Kim (NJ-03), Donald Norcross Jr. (NJ-01) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) cover the county in the House. 

Residents are urged to practice social distancing to help contain the virus’s spread. 

“It’s critical that everyone takes the social distancing process seriously,” Gangemi reiterated. “Just because you aren’t in the high risk population, doesn’t mean you won’t contract the disease.

“Stay home.”

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