Federal COVID-19 testing sites coming to North Jersey, Philly

Staff at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site talk to people waiting in line

In this March 24, 2020, file photo, staff at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site talk to people waiting in line in their cars at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

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The federal government said it plans to bring more COVID-19 testing sites to Philadelphia and New Jersey as demand for tests — and virus cases — surge.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will open a surge testing site in North Jersey on Saturday, which will be available to all Garden State residents. The East Orange site, located at 90 Halsted St. in the city’s Division of Senior Services multi-purpose room, will offer free PCR tests from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will administer 1,000 tests per day, with results available in about 24 hours. Residents can pre-register online.

COVID-19 cases have risen dramatically in Essex County, with a daily average of 2,752 new reported cases on Dec. 29, according to The New York Times’ tracker. That’s up 652% from two weeks before. Hospitalizations have also increased by 119%.

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Overall, reported COVID cases are up 280% across New Jersey.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, the White House also announced that it would open free testing sites in Philadelphia “across the next several days,” but did not provide more information.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said it is currently awaiting more details from the federal government about when and where the sites will open.

A nationwide shortage of COVID-19 tests, combined with high demand prompted by the fast-spreading omicron variant and holiday gatherings, have led to long lines at testing sites, long waits to book appointments, and difficulty finding at-home testing kits.

The city’s health department recently had to cancel a rapid test giveaway after high demand at earlier pop-up giveaway events depleted supplies. The department has ordered tens of thousands more at-home kits, but those orders are delayed.

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