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November 18, 2020

New Jersey colleges, universities urged to provide COVID-19 testing before students leave for Thanksgiving

The state recorded 4,063 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday

Prevention Illness
new jersey colleges universities covid-19 testing.jpg Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Starting this week, Rowan University has been administering free COVID-19 tests to all students and employees before the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

As many college students prepare to travel from campus to visit with family and friends over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, New Jersey officials are asking colleges and universities across the state to offer coronavirus testing before classes conclude and residents disperse.

Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be encouraged to self-isolate on campus. However, if they choose to travel home, they must make arrangements that are in accordance with health and safety guidelines issued by local officials.

“We must slow the spread,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

New Jersey’s request is part of a regional initiative taken up by neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, to have colleges and universities test students for COVID-19 before leaving campus for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are also part of the regional effort, which comes on the heels of an “emergency summit” this past weekend among the Northeast governors to discuss how the neighboring states could best combat the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania announced that all colleges and universities must develop a testing strategy to limit COVID-19 spread as students return from winter break. That includes testing all students, conducting regular screenings throughout the semester, and expanding capacity for quarantining.

Starting this week, Rowan University has been administering free nasal and saliva-based COVID-19 tests to all students and employees before the forthcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

New Jersey reported an additional 4,063 positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total up to 289,562.

The statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission sits at 1.42, and the percent positivity for all PCR tests recorded on Nov. 14 was 10.88%.

There are currently 2,446 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, with 461 in the ICU. There were 340 new COVID-positive patients admitted on Tuesday. More than 220 ventilators are currently in use.

“There is no way to sugar coat any of these numbers,” Murphy said. “We must reverse these numbers.”

There have been 14,843 lab-confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 in New Jersey since the pandemic began in March.

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