New Jersey is now up to four cases of the novel coronavirus, with a diagnosis of a Bergen County man as well as a Camden County man in the southern part of the state, with tests on one more person pending.
The fourth presumptive case came from a man in his 50s who was hospitalized at Englewood Hospital in Bergen County. He was initially hospitalized on Thursday.
Hours earlier, Camden County officials said a man in his 60s was hospitalized in stable condition. The diagnosis came hours after Pennsylvania reported its first two cases.
New Jersey's first case was a 32-year-old man who tested positive for COVID-19. He has been hospitalized and in isolation since March 3; the chief physician at the hospital said Thursday that the man is "resting comfortably and doing well."
Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said the man had an apartment there, but also lives in Manhattan and is a health care worker in New York City. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Friday that the man worked on February 29 while exhibiting symptoms. He wore a mask and gloves as he saw 10 patients, none of whom are showing any symptoms.
Sokolich confirmed that the man had not made contact with any other people in Fort Lee in the time before he was hospitalized. Officials are tracing to see if he came in contact with others in Manhattan.
The second presumptive positive case was a woman in her 30s who also lived in Bergen County, according to an announcement made by Gov. Phil Murphy late Thursday. The woman is a resident of Englewood, according to the city's mayor, and was being treated at Englewood Hospital while exhibiting "mild symptoms." She was released and will be isolated in her home until the state's Department of Health clears her. It was not immediately clear if she had been in contact with any others after getting infected, but she had no connection to the first New Jersey COVID-19 case.
A test had been conducted on the woman earlier, but Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes said a relative of the woman contacted him on Wednesday concerned and frustrated that the test was taking too long.
"The test had already been conducted and they wanted to get an answer and that the timeline was taking too long," Wildes said, adding that he contacted the governor who expedited the state's results. "It’s not fair to that patient and not fair to other people who may have come into contact with them."
The state said Friday that 11 other people had pending tests in the state lab, nine of which came back negative, and another remains pending.
The New Jersey Department of Health has established a 24-hour telephone hotline for residents who may have concerns or questions: 800-222-1222
New Jersey also enacted immediate restrictions on state-related travel for state employees, and has suspended all international travel for state employees until further notice. Any out-of-state travel has to be approved by the governor's office, according to the announcement.
Schools in the state were told by the Department of Education that they "may be asked to close preemptively or reactively," and that districts should plan and prepare ahead of time. The department put out a guidance for the schools, saying that home instruction for students — including online lessons — may be used.
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Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state has 700 rooms capable of isolating patients in hospitals across the state, if needed. Gov. Murphy last month set up a task force to prepare for handling the virus, and Persichilli said a crisis management team has been meeting daily.