Presumptive Positive Cases of COVID-19 in NJ

A 32 year old Fort Lee man has been hospitalized at Hackensack University Medical Center since Tuesday with what state officials are calling a presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The presumptive positive result came from a sample tested by the New Jersey Department of Health at the New Jersey Public Health Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) and is now being submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.

Daniel W. Varga, chief physician executive at Hackensack Meridian Health, said the patient is “resting comfortably and doing well” and that the hospital is “taking every precaution in treating this isolated patient.”

Additionally, at a press conference this afternoon, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver announced that a second presumptive positive case has also been identified. It will also be sent to the CDC for confirmatory testing.

As a result, the Murphy Administration issued the following restrictions:

  • Immediate restriction on all state-related business travel.
  • All international travel has been suspended for the state workforce until further notice.
  • Previously approved international travel by state employees is cancelled.
  • All domestic out-of-state related travel on state business must be approved by the governor’s office, including same-day travel.

“The New Jersey Department of Health, in conjunction with local health departments, is in the process of identifying healthcare, household and other close contacts of these two cases,” New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “These contacts will be assessed as to their level of risk of exposure to the case and other close contacts will be asked to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms for 14 days.”

Persichilli said that the first case was traced to the individual travelling in New York, while the second case was still being investigated.

“We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for this for weeks,” Governor Murphy said. “I urge residents to remain calm and use resources from the New Jersey Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control to prepare and prevent the spread of infection. My administration is prepared to respond swiftly to any additional positive cases of COVID-19 here in New Jersey.”

Public health authorities are proceeding with the public health investigation and response activities as if the cases were confirmed. The New Jersey Department of Health is tracing close contacts of the infected individuals and is taking “appropriate public health actions.”

The governor’s office said that more information will be released when it becomes available.

“Any case of novel coronavirus in our state is concerning, however most New Jersey residents are at very low risk of contracting COVID-19,” Persichilli said. “The Department is working closely with the CDC and local health officials to respond to this case and is monitoring the evolving situation across the nation.”

Yesterday, Oliver announced that the CDC had awarded initial funding to New Jersey for its COVID-19 response.

“The CDC will provide New Jersey with an initial award of $1.75 million for our response to COVID-19,” Oliver said. “We remain in close contact with the White House, CDC, and other federal agencies to ensure that our needs as a state are met as we continue to aggressively prepare and respond to the global spread of COVID-19.”

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