With the final days of 2021 dwindling and winter holidays upon us, there’s been a rush on COVID-19 testing.

As new cases and concerns about new variant omicron also have spiked, New Jerseyans are seeking a negative result in order to travel or gather with loved ones.

On Tuesday, the White House previewed an announcement from President Joe Biden that the government was purchasing 500 million coronavirus rapid tests for free shipment to Americans starting in January.

People would use a new website to order those tests, which would then be sent by U.S. mail at no charge, White House officials said.

At-home testing

In the meantime, there now are free at-home tests being mailed by the state, upon request, though the window of results being returned this year closes with each passing day.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said on Monday it was the last such a test could be ordered, to guarantee results by week's end.

Search for COVID test locations

The state's COVID test finder lets you search by ZIP code. Requirements and operating hours vary and many sites require an appointment in advance.

Some require proof of residency in New Jersey or within a specific county or municipality.

Burlington County has announced expanded testing hours, while others, like Somerset County, still had at least one clinic before the weekend for residents to be swabbed.

“Testing is one of the most important tools to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we’re seeing increased demand for it because of the holidays and a surge in infections,” Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the Burlington County Health Department, said in a written release Tuesday.

Conaway said the vaccines and boosters offer the best defense against COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant.

“We know Omicron is highly-contagious and spreading rapidly, but there’s strong evidence that the vaccines and particularly the boosters provide strong protection against serious illness and death,” he continued. “For those who are not yet vaccinated or who are now due for a booster, we’re imploring you to act now.”

Another good starting place for those seeking either PCR or rapid testing — county level resources, as listed below.

Burlington County

The Burlington County Health Department has expanded the hours of operation at its COVID-19 testing site to ensure residents, ages 5 and older, as well as those who work or go to school in the county, have access during the holidays.

The testing site is within the Willingboro Town Center at 4390 Route 130 North in Willingboro. It would be closed Friday, Dec. 24 and Friday Dec. 31.

COVID-19 testing will be available on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Walkups are welcome, while appointments are encouraged and can be made online.

Test results are typically returned within 24 to 48 hours. Insurance information is collected but no one faces out-of-pocket expenses, or is turned away if uninsured, according to the county.

Somerset County

Somerset County has a free testing clinic set for Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bernards Township Community Center at 289 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge.

A full listing of test providers in the county also has been online, including local pharmacies.

Union County

Union County has two free test sites as follows:

Kean University (Downs Hall), 1000 Morris Ave, Union Township
7 a.m. - noon, Mondays
7 am - noon and 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., Thursdays

Gerry B. Green Building, 200 West Second St, Plainfield
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays

Demand for testing has definitely increased, a county spokesperson said, as seen by the lines of people outside of test clinics.

Middlesex County

Middlesex County has been testing county residents on an appointment basis.

As of Tuesday, the next available testing day was Dec. 28, for which appointments were still available.

The county’s testing schedule is online.

So is the appointment portal.

Monmouth County

Monmouth County offers a free COVID-19 testing program, at clinic locations around the county for residents, only.

Clinics are offered only on certain days and times, and residents must fill out a testing requisition form prior to testing, according to the county health department's website.

In addition, the state's COVID testing resources lists a Wednesday clinic, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the Freehold Fire House, or once 200 tests have been , according to county officials.

Mercer County

Mercer County residents, first responders and health care workers can request a free saliva collection test for COVID-19 test at mercercares.org.

Much like the state's new program, the test is performed at home through a video tele-health visit and submitted by mail.

Ocean County

The Ocean County Health Department has seen an anticipated increase in demand for testing due to the holidays and those who are demonstrating COVID symptoms during this recent uptick, a spokesperson said.

The COVID drive thru testing center at Ocean County College has extended its hours for Wednesday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. to meet the holiday demand, a county health department spokesman said to New Jersey 101.5, and also would open the site on Thursday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

There was no registration required as the site was for drive-up’s only, with no rapid or saliva tests available — just PCR testing with a turnaround time of four days, the spokesperson said.

Another testing clinic would be at OCC on Tuesday, Dec. 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There also are "many area pharmacies" along with walk-in clinics and physicians to try, the spokesperson said.

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