Seventy Mercer County residents seek COVID-19 tests as new testing center opens at Quaker Bridge Mall

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The parking lot of the Quaker Bridge Mall is now a drive-thru testing center for COVID-19 patients.PHOTOS BY LEA KAHN
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The parking lot of the Quaker Bridge Mall is now a drive-thru testing center for COVID-19 patients.PHOTOS BY LEA KAHN
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In the first full day of appointment-only, drive-through testing for COVID-19, 70 Mercer County residents rolled through Mercer County’s new testing center at the Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrence Township on March 31.

The testing center, which has been set up in a parking lot at the Quaker Bridge Mall, is a collaborative effort between Mercer County and several Mercer County hospitals. It is open weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and will only test Mercer County residents who are at least 18 years old.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said he was pleased with the “soft opening” of the drive-through testing center, which will test Mercer County residents on an appointment basis. No one will be tested without an appointment, and everyone must drive up in a car or truck.

“We’re working out a few bugs, but overall, we’re very pleased with the way things went. Everyone is working hard and we’re geared up for a full day of testing (starting April 1),” Hughes said.

Mercer County residents who have COVID-19 symptoms and who want to be tested would need a prescription from their physician before they can make an appointment for the test, Mercer County officials said.

To be eligible for testing, it is necessary to be examined by one’s physician. The physician will determine whether a test is needed, based on the symptoms. No one should be tested unless they are displaying symptoms.

If a physician decides that a test is necessary, he or she will fax a prescription to the Mercer County call center with the patient’s phone number. A staff member will call the patient and schedule an appointment.

Patients will not be allowed to leave their cars at the testing site, for the health, safety and security of the staff at the site. They should expect to wait in their cars for possibly long periods of time as they wait for the test.

Walk-up patients are not permitted.

The test will be performed by a nurse, technician, paramedic or emergency medical technician. The person collecting the sample will be dressed in full protective gear, including a mask and gloves.

The healthcare provider will insert a soft swab deep into the nose, swirl it around, withdraw the swab and secure the specimen to be transferred to the testing laboratory. The process takes about a minute.

Mercer County has contracted with Bio-Reference Laboratories to run tests on the specimens. The typical turn-around time for obtaining results is 48 to 72 hours, but it could take longer, depending on the volume.

The results will be sent to the physician, who will share the information with the patient and decide on the next steps, Mercer County officials said.