(TNS) - The drive-through coronavirus testing sites at Bergen Community College in Paramus and the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel will close June 30 as federal support ends.
But the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will continue to support ongoing testing at local pharmacies through at least the end of August.
“I am grateful for this partnership and that it will continue,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at his daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
The agency said in a statement that the Trump administration was working with state officials “to establish a rigorous state-led testing plan moving forward. Additionally, there is an increasing number of private and county-run testing facilities throughout the state of New Jersey to ensure that individuals get the care they need.”
FEMA said the drive-through sites always were planned as short-term solutions while more robust testing programs were established.
The pharmacy sites were crucial to helping expand testing in New Jersey, which until recently was home to the nation’s second-largest number of coronavirus cases behind only New York. The state has reported 169,892 cases to date.
“As one of the hardest hit states, federal support is critical to expanding and sustaining New Jersey’s coronavirus testing capacity,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist. “The extension of federal support at pharmacies across the state will allow New Jersey to maintain testing and keep New Jerseyans healthy.”
Murphy has said expanding testing was crucial to his plans for reopening the state’s economy, which was shut down to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
After Murphy met with President Donald Trump at the White House in April, New Jersey received 550,000 testing kits and 750,000 swabs from the federal government, allowing it to ratchet up testing capacity at the time.
Trump, though, has faced criticism for leaving it up to the states to be responsible for testing within their borders rather than having the federal government handle it.
He sparked controversy last weekend for saying, “When you test to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”
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