U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, toured the lab at Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) where leading infectious disease experts and researchers are developing a test for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The senator also called for a more robust federal response to the outbreak that includes greater funding to ensure New Jersey has the resources necessary to protect the public.
“The United States is capable of answering any challenge – so long as we have the necessary resources and strategy to succeed,” said Sen. Menendez. “I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to protect the public health of New Jersey families and all Americans. Together, we can prevent COVID-19 from turning into a full-blown public health crisis.”
Scientists and researchers at Hackensack Meridian Health’s CDI have developed two sets of diagnostic tests for the coronavirus. One test is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the other test is recommended by a group of prominent scientists in Germany. Once the diagnostics are tested with a live sample of the virus, Hackensack Meridian hospitals will be able to test individuals experiencing symptoms on-site instead of sending samples to a CDC lab. This will allow patients to receive their test results more quickly.
“Coronavirus is already in the US and we are preparing for cases in New Jersey,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, the chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “As the state’s largest comprehensive health network, we are positioning ourselves as the leader to mitigate its effects, and also develop innovations which will help in the days and weeks to come.”
“Timely diagnostics are critical and we are veterans in this kind of event,” said David S. Perlin, Ph.D., the chief scientific officer and senior vice president of the CDI. “Our rapid diagnostic lab has previously been part of the 2003 SARS response, and the 2009 H1N1 response – and most recently the Candida auris outbreak. We’re doing our part to get Hackensack Meridian Health, and the state of New Jersey, ready for any viral spread.”