The Burlington County Health Department is already seeing increases in the number of people being tested for COVID-19 following the recent expansion of its testing program.
More than 600 people were tested last week through the county’s home testing option or at the county’s new in-person test site at Rowan College at Burlington County in Mount Laurel. The total includes 247 people tested through the home testing program and another 365 who were tested at the new test site at the college.
“We know that testing is critical to combating the spread of the virus so we’re pleased to see county residents and workers take advantage of our new expanded program,” said Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the Burlington County Department of Health.
He noted that positive cases of COVID-19 have increased across the county in recent weeks. Between Oct. 6 and Oct. 13, more than 335 county residents tested positive for the virus, a 4 percent increase.
“Testing provides our residents and workers with information they need for their own health and safety and for the health and safety of their family, friends and co-workers,” Dr. Conaway said. “By all of us working together and taking common sense precautions – such as wearing masks in public and obeying social distancing rules – we can help control the spread of this deadly virus. We must not let down our guard. In fact, with cooler temperatures arriving and increased time spent indoors, we need everyone to be extra vigilant.”
All county residents are eligible for testing, along with health care workers and first responders who work in the county. However, children younger than 6 are ineligible for home testing.
Under the new program, residents seeking a home test should visit www.homecovidtest.org to enroll on and provide proof of residency or employment.
Both the home testing and the testing at the college site are provided through a new partnership between the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Vault Medical Services of New Jersey, the Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory and the State of New Jersey.
Under the program, residents will register online and be sent a home testing kit with instructions on how to collect a saliva sample and send it to the Rutgers lab. Test results are expected to be returned within 72 hours.
Residents should also have their health insurance card handy, but a lack of insurance will not prevent someone from using at-home COVID-19 testing. Federal rules require the collection of insurance information to support the testing program. Under federal law, all forms of public and private insurance must cover FDA-approved COVID-19 tests with no out-of-pocket costs to insured persons.
After eligibility is verified, residents will be emailed a testing code number and a link to Vault’s webpage to request a county-funded test kit. The kit will be shipped overnight with instructions on how to schedule a Zoom tele-health meeting with a certified health care worker who will virtually oversee and instruct the resident about how to properly collect a saliva sample for shipment to Vault and the Rutgers lab for testing.
Testing at the county’s new fixed site on the RCBC campus is performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Times and locations of mobile test sites are under review and will be announced soon.
More than 8,000 people have been tested through the county program since its launch in March at a fixed testing clinic site in Westampton and at mobile clinics throughout the county.
Conaway also encouraged residents of all ages to obtain a flu shot as soon as possible due to the coronavirus pandemic overlapping with the upcoming influenza season and the danger that some residents could become infected with both illnesses.
A schedule of the county’s flu shot clinics is available online at www.co.burlington.nj.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1360.
The Health Department is accepting appointments for its child immunization clinics on Mondays from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m. Uninsured children and those covered by New Jersey Family Care Plan A aged 5 to 18 are eligible, along with any individuals of Native American or Alaskan Native descent. To make an appointment, go to http://provider.kareo.com/dr-herbert-conaway#?view=booking.