Coronavirus: NJ officials say state is prepared for what's ahead

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Coronavius (Pixabay)
By Bradford Mason

As concerns over the coronavirus (known as COVID-19) continue, New Jersey officials say measures are being take to quell the spread of the illness in the Garden State that's sickened thousands around the world.

Officials reported the state's first confirmed case of coronavirus on Thursday. A 32-year-old man from Fort Lee reportedly tested positive for the virus. The man was placed in a hospital in North Jersey where he was in stable condition.

"We know the COVID-19 virus will happen in New Jersey and if it should happen in Bergen County we will be prepared and ready," said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. "Now that a presumed positive test result has occurred here in Bergen County I have been in contact with Mayor Sokolich  and have offered the full support of county government. Our Bergen County Health Officer has been in contact with the local health officer offering any assistance they made need."

On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who at the time was acting Governor while Gov. Phil Murphy was recovering from his recent surgery, announced that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) awarded initial funding to New Jersey for COVID-19 response.

"The Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will provide New Jersey with an initial award of $1.75 million for our response to COVID-19. 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.”

Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. voted for an $7.8 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill today to fully fund medical efforts against the coronavirus and protect Americans from this public health crisis. 

The bill would provide more than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics as well as an additional $2.2 billion to fund national, state and local prevention, preparedness, and response efforts.  It would allocate $1.25 billion to address the spread of the coronavirus abroad.  Plus, it would make available almost $7 billion in low-interest loans to American small businesses to help cushion the economic blow of this growing medical emergency.

“The health and safety of our citizens is our top priority as public servants,” said Payne, Jr.  “Coronavirus is a national public health crisis that demands quick and effective action.  It will become worse if we fail to act and I am proud of my House colleagues for showing true bipartisan leadership to pass this bill immediately.  I hope the Senate and President pass it quickly.  There is no price tag when it comes to saving American lives.”   

Earlier Murphy, joined State health and emergency management officials at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center in Ewing, NJ to highlight the state's preparedness measures amid the global novel coronavirus outbreak.

“As Governor, I am charged with safeguarding the health and safety of our residents,” said Murphy. “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.”

Murphy's Administration continues to work closely with the CDC and local health partners to monitor the situation and will provide updates accordingly. On February 3,  Murphy signed Executive Order No. 102 creating the Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate all State efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the public health hazard of COVID-19. 

The Coronavirus Task Force includes key agencies including the Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Office of Emergency Management, Department of Education, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Port Authority, and NJ TRANSIT. These agencies are critical in preparations for transporting and housing quarantined individuals, preparing schools and employees, and mass transit. The Task Force meets weekly to coordinate the State’s partnership with the Federal government and Newark Liberty International Airport to ensure effective communications. Murphy also spoke with Vice President Pence regarding the state’s proactive preparedness efforts.

“Although this novel virus in understandably a cause for concern, it is important for New Jersey residents to know that the risk to the general public still remains low,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “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.”

The Administration also opened a hotline (1-800-222-1222) for the public to ask questions about COVID-19. Information can also be found at https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml.

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