New Jersey Pharmacists Authorized to Conduct COVID-19 Tests

Authorized licensed New Jersey pharmacists were granted the ability to administer COVID-19 tests to customers, enabling pharmacies statewide to serve as testing sites.

Gov. Phil Murphy said allowing the more than 18,000 pharmacists in the state to provide the test is a key step in obtaining the goal of doubling statewide testing by the end of May as laid out in his Road Back recovery plan.

The Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) administrative order allows for tests to be given without a prescription and removes the requirement that pharmacists enter into explicit collaborative practice agreements with a physician. There are 2,239 pharmacies in New Jersey, including retail chains and independent businesses.

Community Connection

“These pharmacies are run by professionals who have a deep well of trust and a strong connection with their broader communities,” said Murphy at his daily briefing on May 19. “These are the places where customers and residents may feel most comfortable to receive a COVID-19 test, in a place they trust, from a pharmacist they know.”

The DCA order specifically allows pharmacists to order and perform tests, and waives legal requirements that otherwise would preclude pharmacists from administering tests without entering into a collaborative practice agreement or protocol with a physician.

Two companies that recently announced testing expansion as part of the program are CVS and Walmart. The governor said CVS plans to offer COVID-19 self-swab tests at a minimum of 50 New Jersey locations to be announced by the end May. 

Walmart Plan

Walmart is teaming up with Quest Diagnostics to offer COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites beginning on May 22 at seven Walmart stores across New Jersey will open  The testing sites will test adults who meet Centers for Disease Control and state and local criteria on who should be tested, including first responders, healthcare providers, those having symptoms of COVID-19, and those in high-risk groups without symptoms. 

North Jersey sites will include Garfield, North Bergen and Kearny.

The sites will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. by appointment only through Quest’s online portal. The portal will screen and schedule appointments for those individuals that meet eligibility requirements for the testing sites.

Swab Test

The sites, staffed by Walmart pharmacists and associates, will use a self-administered nasal swab test allowing those being tested to swab their own nose onsite while in their vehicles, and drop the sealed sample into a container on their way out of the drive-thru site. Testing is not available inside Walmart locations.

Quest will handle processing test samples and communicating results to those tested and applicable departments of health, with results expected in about two days.

“This is another important step forward as we continue to build testing capacity in our state,” said Murphy.  

Daily Data

As of May 20, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 150,399 with 1,676 new cases and 168 new deaths, bringing that total to 10,747. 

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,569, followed by Bergen with 1,500, Hudson at 1,106, Passaic at 855, Morris at 581, Sussex at 140 and Warren with 122.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 16 was 18%, a 6% rise from the previous day. State officials said they believed was an anomaly but one they would be monitoring closely. The state is no longer using serology tests as of May 18 as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. By region, the north tested at 14%, the central at 25% and the south 23%.

Officials reported 3,405 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus—which included 261 new hospitalizations—while 282 patients were discharged. The north tier had 1,721 patients hospitalized, the central 975 and the south 709.

Officials broke down by tier the daily discharge and new hospitalizations. For May 20, the north reported 125 new hospitalizations and 134 discharges, the central 30 hospitalizations and 84 discharges, and the south 106 hospitalizations and 64 discharges.   

Of those hospitalized, 975 are in intensive care units—below 1,000 for the second day in a row— and 750 on ventilators. There are currently 47 patients in field hospitals, with 4580 treated overall. 

Hudson Tops County Count

Hudson has the most cumulative cases in the state with 17,748 followed by Bergen at 17,518, Essex at 16,852, Passaic at 15,426, Union at 15,122, Middlesex at 14,954, Ocean at 8,165, Monmouth at 7,541, Mercer at 6,162, Morris at 6,139, Camden at 5,738, Somerset at 4,349, Burlington at 4,058, Gloucester at 1,966, Atlantic at 1,875, Cumberland at 1,830, Warren at 1,100, Sussex at 1,069, Hunterdon at 920, Cape May at 531 and Salem at 481.

Another 778 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

The amount of days it takes for a county to double its cases is past a month for all but two of the 21 counties in the state.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 19% Black, 19% Hispanic, 6% Asian and 3% another race. For 40,309 hospitalizations that were tracked, the breakdown was 36% White, 20% Black, 18% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 11% another race. 

Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state and vowed that any plan to reopen the state will work to reduce racial inequities in healthcare. The governor recently signed legislation mandating hospitals report age, gender, ethnicity and race of people who have tested COVID-19 positive or died from the virus.

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 59% had cardiovascular disease, 43% diabetes, 32% other chronic diseases, 17% neurological conditions, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other.

A census of ages for 9,941 confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 4% under the age of 49. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 529 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 28,603 of the cases, broken down between 19,646 residents and 8,957 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, which was 4,349 on May 20. The long-term care facilities are reporting to the state 5,410 residents deaths and 99 staff deaths. 

In a by-county breakdown:  

Bergen County 

  • 63  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 2,873 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1,322 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 878  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 10  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Essex County 

  • 46  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1,921 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 783 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 521  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 19  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Morris County 

  • 41  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1,156 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 552 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 430  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 3  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Passaic County 

  • 25 Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 998 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 584 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 308  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 13  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Hudson County 

  • 15  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 698 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 370 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 163  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 6  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Warren County 

  • 7  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 400 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 101 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 103  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 1  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Sussex County 

  • 5  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 241 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 117 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 100  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 4  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

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