The Morris County drive-thru COVID-19 test site, started on March 30 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, closed down on Friday, June 26, after more than 8,000 people were tested over the past 13 weeks.
Operators of the test site on the County College of Morris campus – including Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and Sheriff’s Officers – spent Friday morning assisting a steady stream of 225 people with last-day appointments for nasal swabbings that would show after a lab analysis whether they were positive for COVID-19.
The last day was also one of gratitude that the partnership between multiple agencies that led to creation of the test site worked seamlessly and efficiently. Sheriff Gannon noted that when testing first began, 43 percent of the individuals tested were confirmed positive for COVID-19.
In recent days, the number of people whose test at the site was positive had dropped to less than 1 percent, the Sheriff said.
He called all the test site partners courageous, saying they put themselves at risk though attired in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) because they wanted to help others combat the virus in as calm a way as possible. Along with Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety Director Scott DiGiralomo, Sheriff Gannon on Friday addressed several groups of test site workers with words of thanks.
“I think of the word courage to describe what happened here. We didn’t know what was going on. We were looking at the wind every day, how the wind was blowing, because we didn’t know what was going on in those early days. But it was courage that had you people step up to the plate to say ‘We got this, we’ll take care of it,’” Sheriff Gannon said.
Partners in the test site included the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, the Morris County Office of Emergency Management and Office of Health Management, both of which Scott DiGiralomo oversees; Atlantic Health System, which provided nurses and medical technicians to do the swabbings; the Morris County Medical Reserve Corps, Morris County Park Police, County College of Morris, and the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy Fire Division.
As they have been since March 30, Fire Division Instructors Scott Warner and Bill Hamilton were on-scene Friday, assisting the medical technicians and Supervising Registered Nurse K.J. Feury with putting on their Tyvek suits and hoods before taking swabs and then decontaminating their protective gear at regular intervals.
“This is a great group of people and it’s amazing how it all worked out so well,” said K.J. Feury.
The Bar Foundation of the Morris County Bar Association thanked the operators Friday by ordering pizza for all the test site workers.
CCM President Dr. Anthony Iacono also thanked the partners and said he marveled at how smoothly the test site ran.
“They say it takes a village, but wow, what a village. You folks just did an absolutely amazing job,” Dr. Iacono said.