Department of Health Working with LabCorp and BioReference Laboratories to Increase Access to Testing for Residents
State Lab Obtaining Equipment for High-Throughput Testing for Ability to Process 1,000+ Tests Per Day
PARAMUS – Governor Phil Murphy today announced new partnerships with the private sector that have begun to increase the availability of COVID-19 testing in New Jersey. Testing for COVID-19 is now being performed in the state by both LabCorp and BioReference Laboratories, enhancing access to testing for state residents. In addition, 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.
“Every minute and hour of every day, we are taking aggressive steps to address the COVID-19 emergency,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to work with our private sector laboratory partners, including LabCorp and BioReference, in the fight to end this crisis and return to normalcy. I am particularly proud that testing for COVID-19 is now being done in our state by private sector labs, at LabCorp’s facility in Raritan, and at BioReference’s lab in Elmwood Park NJ, and that our state lab is rapidly increasing its capacity to perform testing. This represents just one part of an unprecedented, collective effort across our entire healthcare system, and our entire state, to contain the spread of the virus and protect the lives of our residents. With these partnerships, we will be in a stronger position than ever before to identify the scope of COVID-19 in our state and to fight this virus head on.”
“Our industry is working around the clock to perform testing for COVID-19 in New Jersey and the rest of the country,” said William B. Haas, Raritan, NJ-based Senior Vice President of LabCorp Diagnostics’ Northeast Division. “We are doing everything we can to keep people healthy and support the public response to COVID-19.”
“To support the high demand for convenient and efficient COVID-19 testing, BioReference and the State of New Jersey, the home of our main laboratory, have collaborated to expand access to testing across the State by providing an additional 10,000 tests to New Jersey residents,” said Jon R. Cohen, M.D., Executive Chairman of BioReference Laboratories. “In addition, we are working with five counties directly in opening drive-through testing locations and will expand from there. It is a privilege to offer testing to residents of New Jersey, where the majority of our 4,000 employees live.”
“I want to applaud Gov. Murphy for his leadership during this unprecedented public health crisis and the private lab testing companies for stepping up to significantly increase testing capacity,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy. “We need widespread testing to get ahead of this virus, track the spread, and respond in a responsible way that allocates our limited resources to areas with the greatest need, protects our residents, and reduces the impact on communities and businesses.”
“We are facing a public health crisis that requires a decisive and immediate response across all levels of government,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “Expanding COVID-19 testing through this public private partnership will help our medical service providers get the information they need to contain the spread of this virus and protect the health and safety of New Jerseyans. I applaud Governor Murphy and his administration for their steadfast leadership through this crisis, and I stand committed to continue working with them in getting New Jerseyans the help 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,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer. “That includes 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. Today’s announcement will help us flatten the curve and stop the spread.”
“Bergen County is the epicenter of this terrible virus in New Jersey and sadly the number of cases here continues to rise every single day,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. “Our County has also unfortunately experienced the most deaths from complications related to COVID-19. It is important that everyone work together during this public health emergency so that we can test as many residents as possible and begin to treat them. We are grateful that the Governor, FEMA and the National Guard are at Bergen Community College to expand testing for residents. We are hopeful that the success of the BCC testing site leads to more sites opening up in Bergen County and across the state so people can get the help they need.”
“The Department of Health is grateful to our commercial laboratory partners for their assistance testing residents for COVID-19,” said Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “With their support, the state can greatly increase the availability of testing, which is an important part of our statewide effort to help contain the spread of this virus and protect our residents, especially the most vulnerable.”
“The Department of Health continues to work aggressively to ensure our healthcare and public health infrastructure has the resources it needs to identify, care for, and recover COVID-19 patients,” said Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Chris Neuwirth. “Increasing the state’s lab capacity is a critical step in managing this pandemic.”
“The New Jersey Department of Health has been working diligently to create access to COVID-19 testing for New Jersey residents that need it,” said Dr. Thomas Kirn, Medical Director for Public Health and Environmental Laboratories at New Jersey Department of Health. “In collaboration with federal partners, commercial laboratories, hospitals and our own state public health laboratory, we are building the infrastructure necessary to support the diagnostic testing our healthcare system requires to respond to this public health emergency.
Additionally, DOH is purchasing high-throughput diagnostic lab equipment which will allow the state lab to be capable of processing over 1,000 tests per day. Furthermore, in response to shortages of critical components of specimen collection kits, DOH is in the process of developing and validating its own specimen collection kits, which can be used by healthcare providers in the state to send samples to any lab that offers testing for COVID-19. In tandem, these critical steps will enable a much-needed expansion of testing that will identify more COVID-19 tests and save lives.