Coronavirus update: First probable case announced in New Jersey

Posted Mar 04, 2020

New Jersey likely has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, the governor’s office announced Wednesday night.

The patient, a man in his 30s, has been hospitalized since Tuesday in Bergen County following a “presumptive positive result” of the coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, Gov. Phil Murphy and acting Gov. Sheila Oliver said.

The announcement did not name the hospital or say if the man had traveled recently.

The “presumptive positive result” came from a test done by the state Department of Health, according to the governor’s office. It now goes to the federal Centers for Disease Control for “confirmatory testing.”

“My administration is working aggressively to keep residents safe and contain the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement.

“We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for this for weeks,” the governor added. “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.”

Oliver is serving as acting governor as Murphy recovers from surgery to remove a likely cancerous tumor. Murphy is expected to spend the next few days in the New York City hospital where he was treated.

“Our administration has been coordinating across all levels of government, and with our federal partners, to ensure that we are active and engaged with preparedness and response plan,” Oliver said in a statement.

Health officials are working to trace “close contacts of this individual and is taking appropriate public health actions,” the governor’s office said.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said any positive case of novel coronavirus is “concerning,” but added “most New Jersey residents are at very low risk of contracting” the virus.

At least nine people tested negative for the coronavirus in New Jersey in recent weeks. But Murphy and other officials warned Monday that the virus was likely to spread to the state.

There are more than 93,000 cases worldwide and more than 3,100 deaths from COVID-19, mostly in China. The virus has infected more than 120 people in the U.S. and killed 11.

Earlier on Wednesday, New Jersey’s Department of Health announced the state will receive another 500 kits from the federal government this week to test for COVID-19. The CDC also said New Jersey is set to receive $1.75 million from the to go towards the state’s response to the virus.

The development also comes the same day Congress approved an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to combat the virus.

“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan emergency legislation to immediately address the coronavirus outbreak and help keep North Jersey families safe,” U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., said in a statement. “This bill provides emergency funding for a robust response to the crisis, including support for state and local health agencies, and vaccine and treatment development.”

The bill still needs to be voted on by the U.S. Senate before it heads to the president.

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