With public vaccines still months away, officials encourage COVID tests

COVID-19 tests available through county sites, at-home option

With word of the COVID-19 vaccine coming for Burlington County’s health care professionals, first responders and other front line workers as the region braces for a second wave, plans to disseminate a vaccine among residents, too, are coming to fruition, albeit not expected for months.

Burlington County Board Director Felicia Hopson announced on Dec. 21 that Moorestown Mall vacancies will serve as one of six New Jersey vaccination sites.

“The Moorestown Mall is centrally located and close to several major highways,” Hopson said. “(O)ur health care workers and eventually our residents will benefit from the easy access.”

Until the mall’s mega-site opens, the county will operate its vaccination program out of the Burlington County Emergency Services Training Center in Westampton.

With the exact date of a publicly available vaccine still a question mark, county health officials urge residents to get tested for COVID, with at-home testing kits or at a testing center.

“Though the first doses of vaccines are becoming available for health care workers, it will be months before the general public begins getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the health department and chair of Burlington County’s Coronavirus Task Force, via a county-issued press release.

Conaway added: “Testing is among the most important tools in our fight against COVID-19 and we continue to do everything we can to make sure it’s accessible for our residents and those who work here … We want testing to be as easy and convenient as possible.”

Burlington County residents, employees and students can request an at-home test kit by visiting the homecovidtest.org portal. Tests are saliva based and administered by Vault Medical Services of New Jersey. Results typically come back within two days. Due to a previous influx of unused tests, individuals will have 72 hours to redeem their home kits’ codes before they’re deactivated.

While county officials said that lack of health insurance will not be a barrier to utilizing at-home testing, those who are insured must also submit insurance information when seeking a test kit. Under federal law, all forms of public and private insurance must cover COVID tests, with no out-of-pocket costs.

Meanwhile, Mt. Laurel’s Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) is among those testing sites available to residents, with a walk-up testing site that reopened at the end of 2020. Through this month, RCBC will return to its three-day-a-week testing schedule — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — in the college’s Student Success Center.

Increased safety, sanitizing and social-distancing measures have been undertaken at the campus, including increased efforts to ensure that there is no interaction between RCBC’s COVID testing and college operations.

As of Burlington County’s Dec. 28 update, testing is available at the following sites (please note that residents and those working or attending school in Burlington County are advised to call ahead for appointments and/or pre-register online to confirm a location’s address, availability, restrictions and information that might change frequently or with little warning):

* RiteAid, both at the 1147 Cooper St. location in Edgewater Park and 217 Sunset Road  in Willingboro; pre-register at riteaid.com/pharmacy/services/covid-19-testing

* Select CVS locations in Browns Mills, Burlington Township, Delran, Eastampton, Lumberton, Maple Shade, Medford, Mt. Holly, Moorestown, Westampton and Willingboro; pre-register at cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing

* Central Jersey Urgent Care – Browns Mills; call (609) 400-4383 or visit cjurgentcarebrownsmills.com

* Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers’ Burlington City location; available through appointment only by calling (609) 415-9374

* Virtua Health and Wellness Center at 401 Young Ave., Moorestown; for symptomatic patients only. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday; individuals must first call (888) 847-8823 to make an appointment

* Riverside Urgent Care – Cinnaminson and Willingboro sites; call the Cinnaminson location at (856) 829-0407 or Willingboro location at (609) 871-2045 for more information

* Burlington County VA Clinic at 3000 Lincoln Drive E., Suite E, in Marlton; for veterans only; call (215) 823-5800 for more information

Results of the saliva-based tests can be skewed by outside factors, so county officials discourage eating, drinking and smoking/vaping for at least 30 to 45 minutes prior to oral testing to ensure the most accurate result possible.

According to the county, since testing began in March, more than 26,000 people have undergone testing through Burlington County’s program, which has included fixed test sites, mobile clinics and at-home tests.

More information can be found at co.burlington.nj.us/1845/2019-Novel-Coronavirus-Information, including explanations of how and when to quarantine or isolate if an individual tests positive for or fears they’ve contracted COVID.

There are hotlines available for additional assistance. General COVID questions can be answered 24/7 by dialing 2-1-1, while medical queries about the virus can be directed to (800) 962-1253. Opt in to receive alerts by texting NJCOVID to 898-211.