PATERSON, NJ — The foot traffic outside a COVID-19 community testing site along Main Street in Paterson was constant and, at times, heavy on Thursday.
Residents were anxious, yet patient, to get tested on a day where the city announced its largest case count — 750 — since the beginning of the pandemic.
A day after announcing it was expanding mobile testing sites, city officials are now partnering with community pharmacy Sheefa Pharmacy to distribute 5,000 free KN-95 masks, which are proven to be more effective for protection.
Paterson will also open a pop-up testing site at City Hall this weekend for the first time to alleviate the stress at already inundated sites across town.
The city’s efforts happen in the shadow of what continues to be a record-setting week for the Garden State where another 27,975 new cases were reported: the most cases in a single day.
While it remains unclear if the cases were a result of a backlog from several days or from over an 24-hour period, it’s setting off alarms with elected officials across the state who are now issuing new mask mandates.
And unlike last winter, COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations now on the rise.
“We are definitely seeing more children who are ending up in the emergency departments,” Dr. Margaret Fisher, a pediatric infectious disease consultant and special adviser to state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, told PIX11 News.
Dr. Fisher says the uptick of ER visits for children infected with COVID has been dramatic: from 400 visits at the beginning of the month to now — over a thousand statewide.
“What we are seeing now is with children being out and about and now with more children being tested,” Dr. Fisher explained. “Even though they aren’t in the major percentage of people ending up in hospitals – we are still now really beginning to realize that they are very affected by this pandemic.”
According to Dr. Fisher and most experts, the best weapon an unvaccinated child has right now is to mask up. And if they are eligible, they should get vaccinated.
Paterson opens up its pop-up clinic at City Hall on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Residents will be able to not only get a PCR test but a free KN 95 mask on the way out.