Against the backdrop of 87,000 global COVID-19 cases and approximately 90 cases in the United States, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy – in collaboration with state health and emergency management officials – today held a news conference showcasing both the latest updates and preparedness efforts underway, to combat the virus.
“As governor, I am charged with safeguarding the health and safety of our residents,” Gov. Murphy said. “My administration is actively engaged in a multi-level, whole-of-government approach — from our hospitals, to our schools, to our ports — to implement a preparedness and response plan for the potential spread of the coronavirus in New Jersey. Together, we are prepared to respond properly and swiftly to any future individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for coronavirus testing.”
Governor Murphy said he will speak tomorrow with three groups: school superintendents and leaders of colleges and universities; representatives of the business community; and with local and county officials.
New Jersey has no confirmed COVID-19 cases at this time, and Governor Murphy stressed that residents for now can take common sense steps such as washing their hands frequently with soap and water; coughing or sneezing into their clothing sleeves (as opposed to into the air or into their hands); and refraining from touching their eyes, noses and/or mouths. Moreover, he said that those who feel “under the weather” can take a day off and check in with a doctor, adding that it is cold and influenza season, and those are more likely causes for someone’s illness right now, as opposed to the coronavirus.
Updated COVID-19 related information is available at nj.gov/health or by dialing 1 (800) 222-1222, the latter of which has so far fielded more than 850 calls, Murphy said.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said, “Although this novel virus is understandably a cause for concern, it is important for New Jersey residents to know that the risk to the general public still remains low. We are working closely with the CDC and our public health and healthcare partners to ensure our preparedness levels for this novel virus remain high.”
If needed, various hospitals across New Jersey have approximately 700 airborne infection isolation rooms, where any potential future COVID-19 patients could receive care in a way that safeguards hospitals, Persichilli said. An array of other precautions and preparations are also being taken.
Chris Neuwirth, New Jersey assistant commissioner for public health infrastructure, laboratories and emergency preparedness, said businesses should prepare continuity plans, parents should have child care plans in place in the event that schools potentially are closed in the future, and workers who have the ability to telecommute should establish ways for doing so.
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