NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Many people are still struggling to get tested for the coronavirus.
Sufficient supplies and timely testing have arguably been among the biggest failures of handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t know which is harder, battling the COVID virus or trying to get supplies. I don’t know which is more exhausting, I don’t know which is more mentally frustrating and debilitating,” Dr. Alexander Salerno told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
There have been days Salerno would have 300 potential COVID cases and only 50 tests.
“First responders, which as you know are the police, EMS and fire, they’re having a hard time getting tested, and unfortunately, they truly are getting quite a bit of exposure, both known and unknown,” he said.
He says finally, starting Tuesday, testing specifically for first responders will begin in Newark. But weeks into this crisis, Salerno says it should be available for anyone.
“This is a silent killer. I mean, it’s such a cliche, but it’s a silent killer, especially when you have asymptomatic people walking around,” he said.
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Drive-thru testing sites have been running out of the allotted few hundred tests a day within hours of opening, and yet federal funding for these sites appears to be in jeopardy.
“We were hearing that FEMA may be pulling out of our two testing sites this Friday,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “They committed to stay in with us until the end of May, so our commitment in New Jersey from FEMA for those two sites is through May 31. I can’t speak to whether or not that’s different in other states.”
The Trump administration was asked about having a nationwide testing system Thursday.
“Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We’re talking about 325 million people and that’s not going to happen,” President Donald Trump said.
The cry for help can be heard across the country and all over the tri-state area.
At Westchester Medical Center, nurses in desperate need of ventilators and N95 masks rallied in the rain, and workers at New York Presbyterian Medical Center protested having to put their lives on the line while short-staffed and without proper gear.
CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211
As for that rapid test that also shows if you’ve already recovered from the virus, it’s clear the Murphy administration has no idea when it will be widely available.
“I don’t know when it is but I do know we’re gonna need it sooner than later,” the governor said.
As a reminder, the drive-thru testing sites in New Jersey aren’t for the worried well. Anyone who is not showing symptoms will be turned away.
There will be no testing at Bergen Community College or the PNC Bank Arts Center on Easter Sunday.