New Jersey residents rush to get COVID-19 tests ahead of Christmas
The rush is on for New Jersey residents to get COVID-19 tests ahead of the Christmas holiday.
Those seeking a lab test may be cutting it close to get results before Saturday. But hundreds of people were out on Tuesday getting tested. Some are suspecting the worst, while others are just getting a test as a precaution.
There was a steady stream of people at the COVID-19 testing site in West Orange. Demand for tests is surging. Essex County runs three sites and officials say that on Monday alone, 5,600 tests were administered.
This comes as cases of the Omicron variant of the virus surges across the country.
“If it’s causing deaths or not – it’s not right now – everybody's saying it’s very mild. The best thing people can do, our residents, is get vaccinated and continue to get tested,” says Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
New Jersey residents are urged to make common-sense choices to help fight the virus. But those choices can be hard to make.
“As parents, we have a million decisions to make every single day about how to keep our kids safe in this,” says Jessica Harrell, of West Orange.
She says that she chooses vaccination and regular testing.
But Harrell’s friend also just made a tough choice, just days before Christmas.
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“I actually chose not to visit my family in Georgia because of Omicron and all the variants,” says Loni Floyd, of Bloomfield.
Floyd says she went over the summer, but senses that now is the time for caution. And she is not alone, which is why there are long lines for COVID-19 tests around the tri-state area.
West Orange’s testing site is located in an old Kmart. There was an army of workers to help get people in and out quickly.
The tests are free for the patient. But they cost the county $80 each. Essex County has spent $20 million on testing. DiVincenzo says that this is what the Cares Act money is for.
“Whatever it costs, you can’t put money on something like this. This is about people’s life and death,” he says.
That last part still haunts him. Essex County has the highest death toll in the state.
DiVincenzo says that it is good that the White House is sending out tests and says that it is good that the state will send them out also. The county will still keep the testing sites running.