Rep. Smith Leads on NJ Delegation Letter to Keep Feds at NJ Coronavirus Test Sites

Rep. Smith Leads on NJ Delegation Letter to Keep Feds at NJ Coronavirus Test Sites

 

WASHINGTON, DC— Vice President Mike Pence informed NJ Gov. Phil Murphy this afternoon that federal officials will remain at two testing sites in the Garden State into May, only days after the congressional delegation worked together to send a letter expressing serious concerns that the officials were intending to leave this week.

 

On Saturday, Members of the New Jersey congressional delegation pressed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that two federal COVID-19 test sites stood up in Monmouth and Bergen counties remain fully supported beyond an April 10th date originally designated as a time to transition operations over to the state.

 

We are concerned that our federal partners are pulling up the stakes too soon, even before the peak of the virus hits our state,” said Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) who represents Holmdel, NJ which hosts the Monmouth federal testing site at the PNC Arts Center, with a second site in Paramus, NJ.  He said Governor Murphy and state officials expressed concern about the date and urged the delegation to step in and help get an extension.

 

Smith and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), whose district hosts the other federal testing site located at Bergen County Community College, are leading the letter cosigned by members of the delegation, including Reps. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), Bonnie Watson-Coleman (NJ-12), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Albio Sires (NJ-08) and Frank Pallone (NJ-06), as well as Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez. Click here to read the April 4 letter.

 

We reach out to you today to urge you to continue to provide desperately needed supplies and personnel to the two federally sponsored COVID-19 testing sites in New Jersey until a clear and proven decline in positive cases and related hospital admissions has been observed,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

 

“We have been advised by the Governor and the New Jersey Department of Health that FEMA and the U.S. Public Health Service intends to transition the oversight of these two testing stations on or about April 10, 2020. This is highly disconcerting, as New Jersey health officials are expecting the peak in positive cases and hospitalizations to come after the April 10th deadline.

 

“Now is not the time for the federal government to step back from helping to identify those who may increase the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities….we strongly urge you to continue or increase your current commitment to supporting the New Jersey’s COVID-19 testing center until the peak of infections has begun its decline.”

 

The delegation letter notes that New Jersey has the unfortunate ranking of the second largest outbreak by total number of cases—second only to our closest neighbors to the north, New York.

 

Although testing in NJ can also be done by local medical offices and county sites, such as the one in Ocean County which Smith helped launch last month, the two sites at issue are Community-Based Testing Sites set up by FEMA and the State, and are the main federal presence in the Garden State for testing.

 

The drive-thru test sites were opened at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on March 23rd and Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ on March 20th, and have tested over an estimated 6,500 people by the first week of April. The New Jersey Department of Health has reported that the pandemic is growing and not yet peaked and is expected to get worsen in the coming weeks, after the anticipated transition of these sites on April 10.

For the latest version of this release, click on:

https://chrissmith.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=406558

 

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