Above: (left to right) New Jersey Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Chris Neuwirth, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Governor Phil Murphy, and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined state and local officials to open a new Community-Based COVID-19 Testing Site at Bergen Community College, to help announce increased COVID-19 testing capacity in New Jersey, and outline steps at the federal level to ensure New Jersey’s first responders and front-line medical professionals will get the equipment, supplies, and resources they need.
“Right now, more than ever, we must come together as one community to ensure we’re combating the coronavirus outbreak on every front. We have to continue working to expand testing and improve processing time, so more New Jersey residents who may have the virus can actually be tested and know the result sooner,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Gottheimer also outlined the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus’ newly introduced package of federal policy recommendations, the Health Crisis & Economic Revival Package, presented to Congressional leadership and the White House for immediate consideration in the next phases of national Coronavirus response, which includes:
- Ensuring medical professionals have the supplies they need — by addressing supply chain issues facing American businesses and manufacturers, by tapping into federal resources to maintain logistical operations. We need additional regulatory relief at the FDA and CDC for market-based testing solutions and essential supplies, like testing kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment. The federal government should also deploy excess medical personnel and equipment, including military sources to affected areas that need it.
- Helping Americans who may be out of work — by making sure that hourly and gig workers, and those who are out of work due to this crisis receive significantly increased unemployment insurance benefits, including direct payment amounts, under a certain income threshold.
- Keeping businesses in business and workers employed — with low-or-zero-interest loans to small and medium sized businesses that are willing to keep employees furloughed or employed to help them pay their bills and stay afloat.
- Loan deferral and forbearance for Americans and businesses — by developing and allowing loan deferment and forbearance mechanisms for individuals and businesses of all sizes curing this crisis who may not be able to pay their mortgage, their line of credit, student loans, or other qualifying loans.
“I want to acknowledge his leadership and partnership in seeing that the needs of New Jersey and of our families are being met at the federal level,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy when introducing Congressman Gottheimer at today’s press conference.
Today, New Jersey announced new private sector partnerships to increase the availability of COVID-19 testing within the state. Testing for COVID-19 is now being performed in the state by both LabCorp and BioReference Laboratories, boosting access to testing for state residents. Additionally, the state’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratories will soon be able to process over 1,000 tests a day and is developing specimen collection kits in order to relieve shortages of critical kit components.
The new Community-Based COVID-19 Testing Site at Bergen Community College will be open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM beginning March 20, 2020, for current New Jersey residents who are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness. Priority will be given to symptomatic individuals experiencing cough, fever (99.6F or above), and shortness of breath.
Watch today’s press conference HERE.