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NEW JERSEY – COVID cases in New Jersey are exploding at a rapid pace.

Nearly 2,000 of those positive cases come out of Essex County, which is seeing a higher rate than most of the state.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo discussed how the area is working to keep residents safe and increase testing. 

COVID testing in Essex County

One testing site in Belleville – located in Essex County – saw lines wrapping around blocks. DiVincenzo said there have been COVID sites open for about 20 months, and they are testing and administering vaccines regularly.

“Testing is important, but people being vaccinated is the most important thing,” he said.

The county executive also acknowledged that testing has increased as more people are concerned about spending time with their families and friends during the holiday season.

There have been no lines at the county-run mass testing and vaccination sites, according to DiVincenzo.

“Wherever they can get tested, wherever they can get vaccinated throughout Essex County is important,” he said.

Will people who get tested get their results in time for Christmas?

DiVincenzo said results typically come between 24 to 36 hours. He’s not sure if people will get their results on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but they will definitely get it.

COVID spike in Essex County

When asked why he thinks Essex County is seeing a large number of positive COVID cases, DiVincenzo reminded that Essex County has a large population, with many urban areas. 

“It’s hit us very hard here in Essex County,” he said.

Possible mandates in Essex County?

With a surge in cases, several municipalities are imposing indoor mask mandates. 

DiVincenzo said he can recommend mandates to occur countywide, but those should come from the state and governor.

“Each town is going to do what they think is best for their town and their residents,” he said.

Their current focus is getting more people vaccinated.

Schools going remote 

The county executive said that everybody that comes back after the holidays in January, needs to get tested before they come back.

“We need to keep the kids back in school as quickly as possible,” he said, calling it a priority. 

“We shouldn’t be closing down anything because this is going to be for the long-term, and I hate to say this, but we’re going to have to live with it,” DiVincenzo said, “Life has got to go on, businesses have got to go on.”