Despite a slight rise in positive Covid-19 coronavirus cases in Monmouth County recently, there's been a positive trend overall and so to prevent further spread and keep things heading in the right direction, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders is opening up six new testing sites.

Monmouth County Freeholders are appropriating $250,000 from the $108-million they received in Federal CARES Act funding to open up testing sites in some of the more densely populated municipalities of Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, Keansburg, Neptune, Long Branch and Red Bank where residents may also have trouble finding a site that's also free to get swabbed.

"Timely and accurate testing is critical for our trackers to know where Covid is and how we can stop it in its tracks," Monmouth County Freeholder Deputy Director Sue Kiley, said.

Freeholder Kiley, who is also the liaison to the Monmouth County Health Department said that the MCHD will be administering the Covid-19 tests and providing the tracking service to anyone who does test positive for the coronavirus.

At each of the six free sites opening up this week, there will be only 100 tests administered per day at each location but on the plus side you don't need to make an appointment.

"There are no appointments necessary, there is no cost, you do not need a prescription, you just need to know that you're healthy. You come in, you get tested and you get your results," Kiley said. "All residents that do come in are going to have to provide their contact information for us so that we can get back to you and let you know what your result was. You also don't have to be symptomatic to come in and have a test, you just have to want to be checked."

However, whether or not your showing symptoms you are asked to get tested if you've been exposed.

Monmouth County residents being able to get tested for free will help especially in lower income areas such as parts of Asbury Park where they may not be able to afford getting a test.

"In a community like ours where many people live at or below the poverty level, this is so significant that it is going to be free testing," Asbury Park Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton said.

"Testing is crucial in managing this health crisis," Asbury Park Councilwoman Eileen Chapman said. "It gets people back to work, it gets children back to school and it gets people back into our community."

To help make the tests free for residents in Monmouth County, The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation is matching the $250,000 the Freeholders are appropriating to help cover the overall cost.

Their son Jeremy, who is currently the President of the Foundation, recognized the need to have more access to testing within Monmouth County and for residents living in higher risk neighborhoods.

"I was on a call with Pastor Porter from Red Bank, and he spoke up and said 'we have a problem, we have an access problem, we have folks that can't get to testing, we have folks that need the testing to come to them'," Grunin said. "So I listened to what he had to say and I said you know what, we have to do something about this and I made a call to Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and to his credit, he said right away 'yea, we're going to get this done'."

Freeholder Director Tom Arnone says he wants people to feel comfortable where everything is currently at with the fight against Covid-19 and encourage more testing so people in the community are constantly aware of what's going on.

"It gives the ability for people to know, that are walking on the street, that might think they have Covid-19 but don't have the ability to be tested and they're transmitting that," Arnone said.

Freeholder Arnone also explains that with more testing comes more positive cases which is something they want to be honest about as oppose to padding the stats.

"Our numbers are going to go up and my fellow Freeholders, myself, Asbury Park, our Legislators, our administration...we all are in partnership on this and realize this and instead of putting our heads in the sand so we can say are numbers are low, because people are not getting tested, we said let's hit it on the ground and move forward and then fix the problem," Arnone said.

The free Covid-19 testing site locations, dates and hours of operation will soon be posted at www.visitmonmouth.com.

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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