By STEVE LENOX
PATERSON, NJ – As state officials work to squash a statewide uptick in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Andre Sayegh and his Department of Health are focused on preventing the impact of any potential “second wave” of the potentially deadly virus in Paterson.
On Monday, despite the absence of New Jersey Commissioner of Health Judy Persichilli who was also supposed to appear, Sayegh announced the October 5 launch of free mobile “testing on demand” across the city. Persichilli, Sayegh announced, was called away last minute due to what appears to be a spread of the virus in Ocean County, where officials would say later in the day, 28% of New Jersey’s 3,660 new cases over the past six days have appeared.
Paterson’s positive cases, which once stood as high as 262 in a day, numbered just five on Sunday, a number Sayegh attributed to quick action by his Administration during the pandemic’s earliest days. “There is no pandemic playbook,” Sayegh said. Still, he added, through thorough planning, the establishment of a nationally recognized contact tracing effort, and continued adherence to health protocols such as the wearing of masks, Paterson is now, “in a better position than in mid-March.”
Public Health Officer Dr. Paul Persaud described that his team is now “laser focused” and will, with the help of a repurposed mobile unit, launch the community-wide mobile testing which will be accessible to all residents. With most testing efforts, he said, a date and time is given and hundreds of individuals show up, putting a strain on resources. Under this “new concept,” he added, the regular availability of testing opportunities, including both during the day and at night, means more flexibility.
“People are falling through the cracks because they can’t meet those guidelines,” Peraud said. “This increases accessibility.”
The mobile testing unit is expected to operate 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. in a different ward each day, Monday through Saturday, with an extra hour each afternoon on Saturdays. Those seeking testing or more information can call 973-321-1277.