The Union County COVID-19 Partnership Lab at Kean University has expanded testing protocols to include detection of the Omicron variant. Beginning this week, COVID-19 testing done through Union County mobile clinics and permanent testing sites have analysis prepared to identify cases of all currently known variants.
“Variant strains of COVID-19 have made the fight against this pandemic a battle with many moving parts,” said Union County Commissioner Board Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “We strongly urge residents to get tested if they have been exposed and to get their vaccine or booster as soon as possible.”
“The Board of County Commissioners will continue to provide residents with opportunities for testing,” said Commissioner and Chair of the Public Safety Committee Sergio Granados. “Easy access to both testing and vaccination remains our focus and is key to keeping Union County residents safe as we continue to navigate COVID-19 and its variants.”
As part of the efforts to identify possible cases of the Omicron variant within Union County and in addition to current analysis of tests performed this week, COVID-19 positive test samples going back 30 days have been pulled and re-sequenced.
The Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, has been detected in several countries in Africa, Europe and North America. One of the identifying factors is the existence of an S-gene dropout in a spike protein. An S-gene dropout is not indicative of the Omicron variant, however all positive results of the Omicron variant have been identified as containing the S-gene dropout.
There are currently five states with confirmed cases of the Omicron variant – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota and New York. The case in Minnesota was confirmed to have been a COVID-19 positive result of someone who attended a conference at the Javits Center in Manhattan with over 40,0000 participants. Due to the fact that this case was identified in the tristate area, the New Jersey Department of Health is working in a collaboration with the State of New York in contact tracing efforts related to this case.
Along with the permanent testing sites at Kean University in Union and the Gerry B. Green Building in Plainfield, Union County offers pop-up COVID-19 mobile test clinics in local communities in order to reach vulnerable populations including seniors, homeless individuals, and others who would have difficulty traveling to a centralized vaccine site. All results are analyzed through the Union County COVID-19 Partnership Lab at Kean University. For a list of https://ucnj.org/covid19/covid-19-testing-options/
Appointments at the pop-up clinics or permanent vaccine sites can be booked online by creating an account at ucnj.org/vax. Residents looking to visit the Immunization Clinic for a free COVID-19 vaccine can walk in Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Union County COVID-19 Test Center at Kean University, the Mobile Test Unit, vaccination information, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.