COVID-19 testing hours expanded at Ocean County College, as hundreds flock to get tested
Hundreds of people waited in their cars for a COVID-19 test in Toms River on Wednesday, just three days before Christmas. Some waited in line for more than two hours.
“We have seen an increase in demand with testing,” says Ocean County Health Officer Dan Regenye.
The rush to get tested comes as symptomatic people look to get a positive or negative test and those who are well rush to get peace of mind ahead of spending Christmas with family.
“I’ve had both my vaccines – Pfizer – and I had the booster. But I’ve been around people and I want to make sure that whoever I see for Christmas, for the holidays, is safe,” says Nancy Beiswinger, of Toms River.
Regenye says that he is happy that the public is listening and going out to get tested.
“They’re taking all the necessary precautions,” he says.
About 100 free testing sites are open statewide. Hundreds were tested at the Ocean County Community College site on Wednesday. The drive-thru clinic will be open Wednesdays and Fridays.
Demand for COVID tests is soaring through the state, including in the state’s biggest city, Newark.
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“We have people with symptoms that are concerned getting tested. We have people who may have been exposed, but are asymptomatic and want to be cautious. We have folks who just want to gather for the holidays and want a test to make sure they're negative, which is a great thing,” says University Hospital president and CEO Dr. Shereef Elnahal.
He says that 36 COVID patients are in his ER currently, an increase over the last two weeks. But he says that this is still better than at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Compared to over 300 at the worst of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. So, so far, nothing like what we’ve seen on hospitalizations,” he says. “But we’re starting to feel the pinch on staffing in ways that are similar to that time.”
But there may be a silver lining to the Omicron variant, one that health officials are already experiencing in South Africa where the variant was first discovered.
“We may be entering the endemic phase in the beginning months of this year. Even though it sounds crazy now based on the cases we're seeing, if we follow the South Africa pattern, we may be at a much better place,” Elnahal says.
New Jerseyans can find their nearest testing site by going to COVID19.nj.gov/testing.