NJ expands COVID-19 testing to pharmacies, adds guidance on auto, bike sales

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a major expansion of COVID-19 testing capacity in the state. He also issued guidance on resuming elective medical and dental procedures and allowing in-person sales at car dealerships and bicycle shops.

At his Tuesday coronavirus media briefing, the governor said the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of Consumers Affairs has authorized more than 18,000 licensed New Jersey pharmacists to test for COVID-19. Customers can now get FDA-authorized tests at pharmacies without a prescription.

"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,” he said.

In addition, Murphy said, a minimum of 50 CVS Pharmacies in the state will be allowed to offer self-swab tests by the end of this month.

The Office of Consumer Affairs also, with the New Jersey Department of Health, issued binding guidance allowing for non-urgent medical and dental procedures to begin next week Tuesday, Murphy said.

Murphy issued an administrative order to begin in-person sales at car and motorcycle dealerships and bicycle shops, starting 6 a.m. Wednesday. 

NEW: Today we’re issuing an administrative order to allow for in-person sales to resume – effective 6:00 AM tomorrow – at:--Car and motorcycle dealerships--Bicycle shopsThis is another step forward on our road back. pic.twitter.com/BEoiuFGMjR

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 19, 2020

Among the new guidelines are standards for sanitation and prioritizing procedures.

The governor also addressed the Bellmawr gym cited for a second consecutive day for opening in defiance of his executive order, saying it’s too soon to allow gyms to reopen.

"We're not there on gyms. Let me just be unequivocal about that. If we were there, we'd be telling you. It's indoors, it's a lot of physical activity in close proximity. Not necessarily sedentary, but you are by definition in the same milieu for a period of time. And we're concerned about it,” he said.

Murphy announced the deaths of 162 more New jersey residents since Monday from COVID-19 complications. The statewide death count is 10,586 people.

“For them, our flags remain at half-staff,” he said. “As a state, we can ensure that these lives are not forgotten.”

Murphy reported 1,055 new positive COVID-19 infections, bringing the state to a total of 149,013. 

However, the governor said, the daily numbers coming from health officials show the curve moving in the right direction overall. The number of patients in critical or intensive care as fallen below 1,000 “for the first time in a very long time,” he said.

Murphy also noted that the rate of new cases, and the number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 deaths, associated with nursing homes and long-term care facilities have decreased from their peaks. 

“The only surefire cure available right now for COVID-19 is not to get it,” Murphy said. 

Apart from that, he said, every New Jersey resident must continue to maintain social distance, wear a face covering and practice good hygiene.

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KYW Newsradio's Mike DeNardo and Eric Walter contributed to this report.