As the novel coronavirus crisis continues, a growing number of COVID-19 testing sites are opening across the Garden State.

During the latest COVID-19 briefing in Trenton on Wednesday, Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the state Department of Health, said “the testing that’s being done on all these is all using the same general procedure, they’re all using what’s known as a PCR test that looks for the virus itself. These tests all need to be approved through the FDA. “

For that reason, Gov. Phil Murphy suggested it does not matter where you go for the test because the testing sites are actually only specimen collection sites, including the state lab, a few hospitals and three private lab companies.

Assistant Health Commissioner Chris Neuwirth said individuals who are symptomatic will “go through the process, have a nasal swap specimen collected, and then those specimens are brought to one of the commercial laboratories for processing. Depending on where the clinic is operating, they’ll send their specimens to a particular lab like Quest, Lab Corp, Bio-Reference.”

Neuwirth said the quick-result test announced last week by Hackensack Meridian Health, which produces results in hours instead of days, still uses the same type of process being used in the other longer test procedures.

He noted they are only able to process between 40 and 60 tests a day, which is similar to what the state lab is able to process.

Murphy said the FEMA test point of distribution center at Bergen Community College in Paramus is expected to begin operations on Friday, and a second center that will operate at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel will open at some point next week. Both will feature drive-through testing.

Another specimen collecting-testing site operated by Riverside Medical Group is open in Secaucus, and others are planned in the coming weeks.

Health officials continue to stress if you become ill and feel you need to get tested for novel coronavirus, you can’t just show up at a testing facility — you must be referred by your doctor.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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