New Jersey expands COVID-19 testing; Hot air balloon festival rescheduled

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Coronavirus testing is expanding in New Jersey, with Walmart offering self-administered swab tests beginning next week, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

Walmart stores in seven towns across the state will offer drive-up tests from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, Murphy said, though next week testing will be offered Tuesday because of Memorial Day. Appointments are required, and people can schedule a test through Quest Diagnostics, he added.

The locations are: Burlington, Flemington, Garfield, Howell, Kearney, Mount Laurel and North Bergen.

The expanded testing comes after Murphy said earlier this week the number of tests available is greater than people seeking them. The state is pushing to double the number of daily tests from about 9,000 a day to 20,000 by the end of the month, Murphy has said.

"We have now cobbled it together such that we're among the most-tested states in America and our capacity is now exceeding ... the demand by a meaningful amount right now," Murphy said. .

New Jersey reported about 1,700 more positive cases overnight, bringing the total to 150,000. There were 168 more deaths over the same period putting the death toll at 10,747, Murphy said.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

A look at other coronavirus-related developments in New Jersey.


Residents should be wary of anyone texting or calling claiming to be a COVID-19 contact tracer asking for social security numbers, health commissioner Judy Persichilli said. The department is hearing of a rising number of scams, she said.

Contact tracers don't ask for social security numbers or any bank account or credit card information, said Dr. Christina Tan, the state epidemiologist. She says the tracers will identify themselves in calls as an employee with whichever local or county health department the person works for.

The tracer will "build trust," Tan said, by providing information about the virus, what proper precautions are and what a person should do if he or she has symptoms.

The calls can take 20 minutes.



A summer hot air balloon festival is getting bumped to the fall because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 38th annual New Jersey balloon festival in Readington is moving from July 24-26 to Oct. 16-18.

The festival features colorful hot air balloons and music. The rock band Styx was slated to perform, but has canceled and won't be performing in October, according to the festival's website.



New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection unveiled a publicity campaign Wednesday to urge people to wear face coverings outdoors in public places including beaches and parks.

The "Mask Up!" campaign includes posters to be placed at entrances to sate and local beaches and parks, urging people to wear a mask to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"New Jerseyans are eager to get outside and this signage campaign helps our community leaders to remind their residents to do so safely," said DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe. "I hope that cities and towns across the state download and print these new posters and display them prominently in their parks, beaches and other outdoor spaces. Wearing a mask while near others outdoors is an important way to keep all New Jerseyans from spreading COVID-19."

Last week, Murphy gave guidance to local towns on reopening their beaches amid the pandemic, including adopting social distancing, limiting the number of people allowed on a beach, and frequent sanitation of rest rooms, showers and changing facilities.
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