Jersey City to expand COVID-19 testing to all residents

by Ricky Rillera

JERSEY CITY, NJ — To get the city transition to allowing people and the local economy to start recovering, Mayor Steven M. Fulop has announced expanded COVID-19 testing opportunities to all Jersey City residents. A mobile testing will be brought directly to some of its vulnerable residents in senior living housing and public housing sites for more convenient access and to minimize mass transit use amid the pandemic.

Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop | FILE PHOTO

“Absent a vaccine or treatment, testing is currently one of the few proven effective ways to slow and track the spread of this virus, which is why we’ve taken the initiative to be aggressive in our approach to protect our residents,” said Mayor Fulop. “We’re at a point where 7 weeks into this we have a better understanding and our residents can use their test results responsibly to slow the pace and reduce risks not only for their immediate friends and family, but also for the community overall.”

Last month, Jersey City has offered free city-run Coronavirus testing. Over 8,000 people including those who are sick, frontline workers, first responders, supermarket employees, and all city nursing home residents and staff were tested, according to the mayor’s office.

“As one of the most densely populated areas in the region, our efforts to make free testing available has proven effective,” said Stacey Flanagan, Director of Health and Human Services. “Now we want to extend testing to as many people as possible, and adding antibody testing will really bolster the expansive health and safety efforts we’ve put in place since day one.”

Appointment-based testing will open to all Jersey City residents beginning next week. Anyone requesting a test can call the COVID-19 Testing Call Center at 201-547-5535 seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Testing will continue Monday through Friday at the drive-through site located in the southwest portion of the city at 575 NJ-440.

In an effort to expand access to some of its most vulnerable residents, the walk-up testing site will operate on the rotating schedule below:

  • Mondays & Wednesdays – Outside Public Safety Headquarters located at 465 Marin Boulevard
  • Tuesdays – Mobile testing at various Jersey City Housing Authority locations
  • Thursdays – Mobile testing at various senior living facilities
  • Fridays – Mary McLeod Bethune Community Center located at 140 MLK Drive

Jersey City has seen a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases from a daily high of 319 on April 19 to an average of 160 (from April 23-29) daily cases, according to city statistics. As of April 29 Jersey City has recorded 5,329 cases of COVID-19 with 285 fatalities. No data is available for ethnicity of these cases.

As of Monday, April 27, the following five parks spanning the city reopened with restrictions: Enos Jones Park, Berry Lane Park, Audubon Park, Leonard Gordon Park and Pershing Field.

Prior to reopening, city crews cleaned the parks thoroughly. City officials still reserve the right to limit entry to the park if overcrowding becomes a concern and will remove park-goers if improper behavior, such as organized sports, takes place. The city also continues to encourage anyone who feels sick to stay home.

Playground equipment, dog runs, basketball hoops, and other active recreation equipment will still remain closed, as will restrooms and any indoor facilities will also remain closed to public access. Dog walkers are asked to keep all dogs on leashes and curb all dogs before entering the park.

City officials are planning a second phase of park openings in mid-May to allow more residents have access to recreational space while adhering to the health and safety protocols in place.

Councilman at Large Rolando Lavarro (left) and the late Ward D councilman Michael Yun (right) | CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The City Council had two of its councilmen who were tested positive of the coronavirus. Filipino American councilman at large Rolando Lavarro had recovered after self-isolation at home while Korean American Ward D Councilman Michael Yun passed away on April 6 after battling the viral disease at Jersey City Medical Center where he was confined for several days.

“We are beyond saddened by the passing of Councilman Michael Yun. He was a family man, a great businessman, and a tireless advocate for Jersey City throughout his nearly 3 decades of public service,” Fulop said. “More than that though, he was a great husband, father, and grandfather as he never missed a chance to share how proud he was of his family.”

“It’s no joke,” Lavarro told a local paper. “It’s very serious and very dangerous. We should take every precaution to listen to the calls for social distancing.”

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