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Murphy announces new coronavirus testing sites, addresses concerns over racist incidents

The second coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-through testing site will open on Monday at the PNC Banks Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. It will open each day at 8 a.m. and remain open until it reaches its daily testing capacity. – Photo by Twitter

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced 590 new positive coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases with four additional deaths on Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 1914 cases with 20 deaths. This new total also includes the first case in Salem County, with there now being positive COVID-19 cases in all of the 21 New Jersey counties.

“We knew, especially as we opened up testing, that we would have bigger numbers. As we collect more specimens and process more tests, that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” he said. “Some of this is community spread, without question.”

These new cases come just a day after Murphy issued an executive order stating the mandatory closure of all nonessential businesses in New Jersey, The Daily Targum previously reported. He said the purpose of the executive order was to increase social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the strain on healthcare workers.

In regard to COVID-19 testing throughout the state, Murphy announced the opening of the second drive-through testing site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. He said the site will open at 8 a.m. every day and remain open until it reaches its daily testing capacity.

He reiterated that in order to be tested, you must be able to prove you are a New Jersey resident and show signs of respiratory illness.

“We cannot, right now with limited supplies and limited manpower, accept what is being referred to as the ‘worried well,’” Murphy said. “We appreciate the worries, we understand it, but if you don’t have symptoms, we don’t have enough manpower or raw materials to test you.”

In addition to the testing sites at Bergen Community College and the PNC Bank Arts Center, Murphy said there is another testing site opening at Kean University in Union County. He said it will be open to residents, first responders and county workers on Monday by appointment only.

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said they are working to open closed hospitals, stand-up field hospitals and unused wings of already existing hospitals. She said this is being done with the help of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

She also encouraged healthy residents throughout New Jersey to donate blood, as there is currently a critical blood shortage throughout the state.

“The need for blood is constant in our healthcare facilities, and the need right now is becoming increasingly urgent,” Persichilli said. “Novel coronavirus is a new virus, but there is no evidence the virus can be transmitted by donating blood.”

Multiple state departments, Murphy announced, were directed to expand access to telehealth and telemental health services throughout New Jersey in response to COVID-19. He said these services will be available without copays and will allow residents to have flexible access to healthcare services from home.

Murphy also addressed concerns regarding incidents of racism against New Jersey’s Asian-American community.

“To be clear, this repugnant and repulsive behavior is wrong, even in good times, but it is even more repugnant and more repulsive now,” he said. “Our diversity is one of, if not the core strength of our state and that strength will get us through this. We are one New Jersey family. Everyone is fighting the same fight. Everyone is making the same sacrifices.”

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