Camden County leaders bemoaned the lack of test kits to address the public health crisis. A drive-through clinic is planned once they’re made available.
By Matt Skoufalos | March 16, 2020
A third Camden County resident is presumed to have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and results are awaited on a fourth suspected case in the county, local officials said Monday.
Meanwhile, the county government continued to pull back its operations to only essential functions, following the lead of Governor Phil Murphy and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Our priority is to make judicious decisions that will benefit us all, flatten the curve, and reduce the spread of the virus,” said Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli.
“If our residents comply with the recommendations of the CDC, and follow the recommendations and orders of Governor Murphy, we will stop the spread of this virus.”
The latest case is a Haddon Township woman in her 50s who is currently quarantined at home with her family, Cappelli said. She is believed to have contracted the disease overseas, having recently traveled to France. The patient doesn’t think she’s been in contact with anyone outside her immediate family except for a friend, Cappelli said.
Meanwhile, county health officials are waiting for test results for another Camden County resident, who would be the fourth presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in the region. All cases must be confirmed by the CDC.
Cappelli said his biggest frustration remains the lack of available testing kits for the virus, which are difficult to come by. Both the state and county are making appeals to acquire kits, which could arrive by the end of this week, although Cappelli was “not sure if that will happen.
“We cannot fight this virus with all the resources we have until we know how many people are sick,” he said.
Once the kits are acquired, a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility is planned for Camden County College in Blackwood, said Camden County Health Department Director Anne Walters.
Patients would require a doctor’s prescription for the test, which would be administered via nasal swab.
“Once you have that pre-auth[orization], you would pull up, and the nasal swab would be done by a nurse, and then you could go on your way,” Walters said.
“We’re trying to do this as quickly as possible so we can see how many cases we’re dealing with.”
The director said her office is “begging and pleading” with the state and federal governments “to get us the testing kits,” and said she was unclear as to which level of authority would be the ones to provide them.
“We can’t get them from the hospitals or the urgent care centers, because they’re also running out,” she said.
Walters also appealed to residents to adhere to CDC guidelines, and to limit social interactions.
“It’s okay to be outside as long as you’re practicing social distancing,” she said. “Take the dog for a walk; go around the block. Exercise is certainly good for your health and your mental health.
“Social distancing does not mean if your children are home from school to have 10 kids over for a playdate,” she said. “Everyone needs to please hunker down, stay in their house.”
She also advised residents to check in on neighbors and family members via telephone, and to call the county-run senior hotline (856-858-3220) for senior or disabled persons who need help.
Cappelli said that county resources are being marshaled to develop “a safety net for anyone potentially falling through the cracks.” Nonprofit and volunteer groups have offered assistance delivering medicine, supplies, and food, he said.
No word was available on any financial relief for businesses affected by the COVID-19 closures.
“I think we’ll get through this,” Cappelli said. “We as a community, as a state, as a nation, will work through this, and we will be fine.”
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