The New Jersey Department of Health launched a pilot program last month aimed at testing all 3,700 residents and staff at 16 southern New Jersey long-term care facilities. The 16 facilities involved in the pilot program were chosen because they were believed to have few or no COVID-19 cases. Despite that distinguishing feature, the tests –conducted in conjunction with 12 teams of Cooper University Health Care workers – showed that 16% of residents and 9% of staffers tested positive. In some of the pilot facilities, the positive rate was over 60%.
Based on these results, the Department will roll out three additional rounds of universal testing. The second round, which is currently under way, focuses on facilities with five or fewer cases of COVID-19. Round three will focus on those facilities with six to 25 cases. The fourth and final round will include all remaining long-term care facilities in the state. The Department is deliberately prioritizing facilities with fewer cases as part of a strategy to limit the spread of the pandemic. In all, the Department will test all of the staff and approximately 70,000 residents of the state’s long-term care facilities. Click here for a list of confirmed cases and deaths in each of New Jersey’s long-term care facilities.
New Jersey’s widespread testing efforts were spurred in part by a meeting at the White House a couple of weeks ago, after which Governor Murphy announced that the Trump administration pledged to give the state 550,000 additional diagnostic tests and 750,000 swabs in an effort to shorten the Governor’s timeline to reopen the state’s economy.