Rapid coronavirus antigen tests coming to New Jersey

By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Testing throughout New Jersey is about to get quicker and easier just as the state is starting to see a spike in COVID-19 cases.

After engaging in talks with the White House over the weekend about rapid testing, Gov. Phil Murphy said $2.6 million BinaxNOW tests are being sent to New Jersey. Sometime during the next two weeks, 170,000 of those tests should be arriving.

“This is an antigen test that can provide results in 15 minutes,” explained Murphy, “with a very easy nasal swab as opposed to the straight up turn left variety we all started with.”

Murphy believes this could be a “game changer” in New Jersey.

“When you do the math, it’s just shy of doubling our daily testing capacity for about 12 weeks,” he said.

There is no set plan yet as to where and how the tests will be distributed. But Murphy said schools and vulnerable populations are part of his vision.

“Underserved communities,” he elaborated, “essential workers, frontline healthcare. It’ll be keeping things that are open, open, and ensuring they’re staying open.”

He can also see these tests being used in COVID-19 hotspots, like Ocean County has become recently, especially Lakewood.

“No equipment is required,” New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli explained. “A sample is collected via a nasal swab and run on a card that uses what they call ‘lateral flow technology.’ It has a 97.1% sensitivity and a 98.5% specificity. That was from a clinical trial of 102 individuals.”

The federal government is sending New Jersey the tests for free, but Persichilli said those interested will have to pay $5.

An additional 561 positive test results were reported in New Jersey on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 204,107.

Around half of Monday’s new cases are from Ocean County.

Over the weekend, the number of new cases was more than 700, the most since June.