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COVID-19 test site opens in Camden City

Run jointly by the Cooper and Virtua health systems, the testing site will test 60 people per day until at least April 15

As North Jersey continues to be hit hard with cases of COVID-19, South Jersey has moved
forward with opening test sites, including one in the city of Camden.

Members of the Camden County Freeholder Board met with Congressman Donald Norcross
and local hospital officials at the city’s Cooper’s Poynt Waterfront Park on the morning of April 1 to mark the opening of the city’s first COVID-19 test site.

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The site, run jointly by the Cooper and Virtua regional health care systems, will be operational only by appointment from noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, until at least April 15. It will allow for up to 60 tests to be done per day for Camden County residents, with higher priority given to those who have received a referral from their primary care physician.

“The site is for individuals who have strict referrals from their primary care physicians and for servicing patients and cars, while also allowing for some walk-ups,” Freeholder Jonathan Young Sr. said.

According to Young and Norcross, the goal of the site — and those potentially in the future — is to help diagnose more cases in Camden County for the benefit of obtaining more data that reflect the virus’ spread across South Jersey.

“The objective is to expand testing to more residents in the county,” Young explained. “Right now, mobile testing sites do not exist in Camden County … the more data we have, the better off we are. Without the data, we can’t see where the curve is and how it’s being flattened or not being flattened.”

Norcross cited the work and programs he has seen in Camden County in recent weeks to
provide essential services for residents in need of food, water, medicine or other provisions.

“There are almost 19,000 COVID-19 cases in New Jersey and we have [approximately 230] in Camden County,” Norcross said. “We were ahead of that curve and saw what was happening and collectively, industry, government and health care worked together to keep this number down.”

The increase in available test sites within the county is expected to show more positive COVID-19 cases, since testing in South Jersey has not been as widespread as is in parts of New York or North Jersey.

“As we all know, the numbers are drastic up in the north,” said Camden City Mayor Frank
Moran. “Once we open up today, you’ll see those numbers start to rise here.”

According to representatives from both Cooper and Virtua, the two health systems decided to jointly operate a test site in Camden City to best serve the surrounding communities.

“We both came together realizing that we have to best serve Camden County,” said Virtua
Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Reg Blaber. “In this moment of national
crisis, we can’t serve separately and apart, but we have to come together to combine our
resources, combine our knowledge, combine our best practices … and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

“I think that together we’re going to be able to better protect the residents of Camden.”

Virtua Senior Vice President for Strategic Alliances Louis Bezich indicated he hopes the
partnership between the two hospital systems will be a strong connection, in concert with
Camden County, that can best identify residents’ needs when it comes to COVID-19.

After April 15, Cooper and Virtua will reevaluate the location’s future with Camden County. As for potential tests at Camden County College, Norcross said three test sites authorized by the federal agency FEMA will be established in North Jersey, with South Jersey getting one location. The county is awaiting final confirmation from FEMA regarding test kits and when the college site can become operational.

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