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TOMS RIVER – Citing an uptick in COVID-19 cases and a greater interest for testing with the approach of the holidays, Ocean County will increase the hours of testing at the Ocean County College drive thru test site.

During the week of Nov. 23, testing by appointment will be done from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Starting the week of Nov. 30 testing will increase to five days a week – Monday through Friday – from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The increase in hours will allow us to increase the number of tests conducted from about 200 a day to about 300 per day,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who is liaison to the Ocean County Health Department. “Since the opening of the test site in March, we have closely monitored the needs and consistently adjusted the hours of testing at the college to accommodate our residents.”

The testing site located off of Hooper Avenue, here, provides tests for both symptomatic and asymptomatic County residents. Appointments are required.

To schedule an appointment for a test Ocean County residents can visit the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org. If residents have any questions, they can call the Health Department at 732-341-9700, Ext. 7411. Proof of residency will be required. All emergency responders can also access testing at the site.

“As people see the number of positive cases increase, more want to be tested,” said Ocean County Public Health Coordinator Daniel Regenye. “People also want to be tested for the holidays. Testing will show if you have the virus even if you are asymptomatic. This can help reduce the spread of the virus so long as people quarantine.

“We have also consistently encouraged our residents to get tested,” Regenye said. “When you add all this up the demand for tests has increased. We believe the longer hours will address this demand. We can also adjust the hours again if necessary.”

To date, 12,039 coronavirus tests have been performed at the college testing site.

“This site has been the result of a successful partnership with the college, our area hospitals, Sheriff Michael Mastronardy and the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management, the Ocean County Health Department and a host of other collaborators who have come together to make this work for our citizens,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “It’s important to be flexible at the site so we can offer more tests when needed.”

Regenye noted there are other locations and testing sites for asymptomatic people that have opened throughout the state with some located in Ocean County.

Two websites providing this information are: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing and https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing#test-sites.

“At the Ocean County College testing site, residents remain in their cars and medical personnel perform a nasal swab,” Little noted. “We have worked to make this convenient and more importantly safe for the public, the health care providers on site and staff.

“Since opening we have met all the demand for tests,” Little said. “We have turned no one away.”

Once the test has been performed, it’s anticipated to take about three to five days for results to be returned.

“All the results will be available on the BioReference Laboratories Patient Portal: Bioreference.com/patients/ and through the Ocean County Health Department residents will be notified whether they test positive or negative,” Regenye said.

The most common symptoms of COVID 19 are fever, fatigue, a dry cough and shortness of breath. Ocean County has also established a process to ensure that people with test results are informed in a timely manner and provided with guidance, consultation and next steps.

Ocean County officials are urging everyone to take the steps necessary to curtail the virus including wearing a mask, social distancing, frequent handwashing and staying home when sick.

 As of Nov. 18, Ocean County has recorded 19,163 cases of the coronavirus.