TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey is struggling to keep afloat as it is hit by a second wave of the coronavirus. In an effort to keep transmission rates down and buoy the economy, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips will introduce a bill on Monday to mandate additional rapid testing facilities in the state.
There are currently 250 testing sites across New Jersey, but most only offer the standard molecular tests, which are polymerase chain reaction or PCR tests, and results are not ready for several days. The rapid antigen tests are cheaper and faster, but much less available.
“If we are going to survive another outbreak of the coronavirus, we are going to need more rapid tests,” explained DePhillips (R-Bergen). “Results can be ready in less than an hour, instead of days, and can be very effective at stopping unwitting community spread of the virus, especially in hot spots.”
The rapid tests are popular in colleges, prisons, schools, communities experiencing rising infection numbers and in settings where people are tested daily. They’ve been used in the governor’s office and are slated to be delivered to veterans homes and long-term care facilities.
“Additional tests are the most important tool we can deploy to stem outbreaks,” said DePhillips. “Shutdowns and excessive Executive Orders have done nothing but hurt our economy, destroy businesses and ruin the livelihoods of families. Rapid Covid tests, combined with commonsense safety measures, are critical to our recovery, both economically and physically.”
New Jersey is performing an average of 40,000 tests a day; however, the majority of those tests are not rapid. In fact, the state’s department of health doesn’t have a complete list of rapid testing sites, because rapid Covid results are not integrated into the electronic reporting systems.
Under DePhillips’ bill, the New Jersey Department of Health would be required to open additional rapid testing facilities until the public health emergency is rescinded.