By: Andre Sayegh, Mayor, Paterson, New Jersey.
In Paterson, our positive cases have plummeted since the peak of the pandemic, but we are preparing for a potential second wave. Our emphasis on health protocols, a pseudo-shutdown of the city, and our nationally recognized contact tracing endeavors have put us in a better position than where we were in mid-March, but we will not relent, because we have come too far.
Increasing access to testing will help augment our efforts to continue to combat COVID-19 and enhance the testing that has been taking place in Paterson for the last several months. Therefore, we are proud to launch our citywide mobile testing initiative, which will commence on Monday, Oct. 5. Using a repurposed mobile unit, we will be testing six days a week in all six wards.
Our testing team will operate in a different one of our wards each night and will move around to multiple locations within the wards each day. Residents will be able to call our Health Division for information as to where the mobile testing will be each night. We are laser-focused on finishing this fight and taking the testing to the neighborhoods that need it the most.
The testing will be free and open to everyone, including people without health insurance and those who do not have symptoms of the virus. Moreover, the mobile unit will afford us an opportunity to follow up on the work of our contact tracing team by allowing them to test the contacts of those who have been exposed to people infected with the virus.
Initial testing efforts required that a date and time be given, and hundreds of individuals would show up, putting a strain on resources. Under this new concept, the regular availability of testing opportunities, including both during the day and at night, will mean more flexibility. We are also purchasing a new mobile unit through federal CARES Act funding that will help us with the distribution of vaccine when it is available.
Our plan is to deploy the mobile unit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Residents can call 973-703-2403 during testing hours to find out the locations of the testing vehicle. For additional information, residents can call the health office at 973-321-1277.
We have slowed the spread of the virus, but we will not stop until we have stopped the spread of the virus. Thus, we are confident that increasing access to testing to all Paterson residents will help us keep our residents safe.