150,000-plus coronavirus cases in NJ; testing to start at 7 Walmarts

TRENTON — As the cumulative number of New Jersey coronavirus cases topped 150,000 on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy again emphasized the need for widespread testing.  “In terms of access to testing, we set a goal of 20,000 per day by the end of the month. This is a floor, not a ceiling,” he said. “More testing creates more data, and more data creates more steps forward” on the road to reopen the state. Starting Friday, self-administered nose swab tests for COVID-19 will be offered in drive-thru sites set up at seven Walmart stores in New Jersey, the governor said during his Wednesday coronavirus briefing.  The Walmart stores offering the tests are in Howell, Garfield, North Bergen, Kearny, Flemington, Burlington and Mount Laurel. The tests will be offered from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., three days a week, weather permitting.  “Walmart pharmacists and trained medical volunteers will be providing the test kits and everyone will be required to adhere to specific safety protocols,” Gov. Murphy said.

Testing is for adults who meet CDC and state guidelines on who should be tested, including first responders, health care providers and others with symptoms of COVID-19, and those in high-risk groups without symptoms.

Those wishing to get tested at a Walmart store must make an appointment in advance at MyQuestCOVIDTest.com. No tests will be offered inside the stores. The tests will be processed by Quest Diagnostics and results should be available in about two days. On Tuesday, the governor announced that the state Division of Consumer Affairs has authorized more than 18,000 licensed pharmacists in New Jersey to administer COVID-19 tests to their customers, and the new order removes the requirement for a prescription. There now are more than 150 private or public sites in New Jersey where the tests are offered. The total number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey reached 150,399 on Wednesday, with 1,670 new cases reported. The CDC reported 1,504,830 cases nationwide. The number of residents hospitalized Wednesday was 3,405, less than half of what it was four weeks ago, Gov. Murphy said, and the number of those in intensive care units and on ventilators also is decreasing. The number of New Jerseyans who have died of coronavirus is 10,747, with 168 new deaths reported Wednesday.

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