Governor Signs Executive Order Establishing Coronavirus Task Force

Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 102, establishing the Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate all wtate efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the public health hazard posed by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Governor Murphy also noted that Newark Liberty International Airport will serve as one of eleven major airports in the United States authorized to receive flights from China that require enhanced entry screening for coronavirus.

“With the outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus around the world, it is critical that New Jersey has strong preparedness protocols in place,” said Governor Murphy. “By establishing the Coronavirus Task Force, we are bringing together experts across state agencies, health officials, and federal partners to ensure that we are working collaboratively to protect the health and safety of all New Jerseyans.”

The Coronavirus Task Force is chaired by Judith Persichilli, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, and will include representatives from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety within the Office of the Attorney General, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Department of Education, and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. In addition to managing the state’s preparation and response to 2019-nCoV, the task force will coordinate the state’s partnership with the federal government and Newark Liberty International Airport to ensure effective communications and dissemination of information. The task force will also coordinate with hospitals and other health care facilities to manage preparations for the possible treatment of patients demonstrating coronavirus symptoms or risks.

New Jersey continues to work closely with the CDC and local health partners to monitor the situation and will provide updates accordingly. As part of the preparedness activities, the Murphy Administration has launched a webpage with resources regarding 2019-nCoV, including travel updates and advisories and guidance sent to health care providers, local health departments, infection preventionists, and other health partners. The Administration has also opened a hotline (1-800-222-1222) for the public to ask questions about 2019-nCoV. The 24-hour hotline is operated by the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, also known as the New Jersey Poison Center. The free hotline is staffed with trained health care professionals and can accommodate callers in multiple languages.

New Jersey has no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV, which originated in Wuhan, China in December, and the state has no Persons Under Investigation (PUI) at this time.

“Outbreaks like this – when a new virus is emerging to infect people – are always concerning,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli. “The situation poses a serious public health threat, but the risk to New Jersey residents remains low and our level of preparedness is high. The Department of Health has been working on this effort for the past two weeks. We’ve held daily meetings and a series of teleconferences to update stakeholders. Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat by taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs. Wash hands frequently and stay home when you are sick.”

“We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Transportation, and the state concerning the new coronavirus,” said City of Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “There will be a screening process at the airport as the flights land and follow-up measures as needed. Please rest assured that precautions are being taken to limit any exposure and my job to inform our community is important to me.”

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