More NJ schools to close this week to deal with coronavirus
Several school districts have announced modified schedules or closures for students as they plan for the spread of the new coronavirus, which as of Sunday had infected six known residents of New Jersey.
In Morris County, the Mount Olive school district announced that schools would be closed Monday for students while teachers report to the high school to help develop plans as recommended by the state Department of Education.
In Middlesex County, South Brunswick schools announced an early release Monday to allow for further disinfecting of buildings while also developing similar response plans.
In Union County, Cranford public schools announced a closure Monday for similar reasons.
Last week, the Frisch School in Paramus closed after 28 children were exposed to an infected person at a bat mitzvah at the Young Israel temple in New Rochelle, New York, the source of many of New York's coronavirus cases.
People who have been exposed to a possibly infected person are urged to self-quarantine for a period of up to 14 days.
Health department officials at the local, county and state level are working to trace the paths of New Jersey patients who appear to have the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not yet confirmed any of NJ's positive results as of Sunday afternoon, according to state Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. That was despite an expected initial goal of receiving confirmation for the first 2 cases by Saturday evening.
Without going into specifics, the state health commissioner said she understood that "other states" also were experiencing similar delays in receiving CDC confirmation of test results, while also saying she has been in very regular communication with federal health officials.
Persichilli also said they expect a continued increase in the number of cases of novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as more patient tests are carried out and processed.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who resumed his active duties after undergoing surgery for tumor removal last week, tweeted the following update Sunday:
Presumptive Positive Tests: 6
Negative Tests: 31
Tests in Process: 0
Persons Under Investigation: 27
Tests Completed: 37
Of New Jersey's known cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, four were in Bergen County, one was in Camden County and one was in Hudson County.
One of the cases of COVID-19 detailed Sunday was a 70-year old man in the intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson. The Teaneck resident and health care worker was in stable condition since being admitted on Friday, March 6.
The second new positive case was a 32-year-old man from West New York, who was admitted March 5 to Hackensack University Medical Center. There was no condition available for that patient.
State officials did not have any further details on specifically where either of the two newest patients work, where their potential exposure to the virus was or who either had been in contact with. Both men were believed to have started showing symptoms around Feb. 28, Persichilli said.
As of Sunday, 27 people under investigation for potential COVID-19 illness included the following regions:
- 9 in Bergen County
- 1 in Camden County
- 2 in Cumberland County
- 3 in Essex County
- 2 in Hunterdon County
- 2 in Middlesex County
- 4 in Monmouth County
- 3 in Union County
- 1 in Sussex County
That number of people under investigation included 6 holdovers from the number of patients who were being tracked Saturday, and Persichilli said new tests would be carried out on some of the 27 today, with state-administered results received sometime Monday.
Of four COVID-19 tests being processed Saturday, all came back negative, state officials said.
Health officials also shared a few more details regarding the places that New Jersey's six patients with presumptive cases of COVID-19 had been leading up to their diagnoses.
Two of the patients (an Englewood woman and Fort Lee man) both initially sought treatment at CityMD Paramus Route 4 Urgent Care.
That same 32-year-old Fort Lee man attended a professional conference in Manhattan with Empire Medical Training at the Westin Times Square, from Feb. 28 through March 2, before presenting novel coronavirus symptoms, Persichilli said.
New Jersey's fourth patient believed to have COVID-19, a 55-year-old Englewood man, attended the Conservative Political Action Conference from Feb. 26 through Feb. 29 in Maryland, as confirmed by the host organization, American Conservative Union.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also attended CPAC, but the same statement from ACU said the New Jersey man did not interact with either Trump or Pence and did not attend any events in the main hall.
On Sunday, health officials did not have an updated number on the roughly 150 people who were reported Saturday as self-quarantined across the state.
Since the new coronavirus concern began, more than 650 people have completed self-quarantine without coming down with the disease, which has symptoms similar to the flu: coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath and fever.
Symptoms can be severe to mild, with older people and those with underlying medical issues such as weak immune systems, heart disease and diabetes at the most risk.
State epidemiologist Tina Tan said medical experts recommend anyone in high-risk populations consider taking precautions in “social distancing," like reconsidering travel to destinations with high levels of COVID-19 infection or cruise ship travel.
State officials said while a public health emergency has never been declared in New Jersey before, "it would be considered if ever appropriate." Persichilli said there is no "hard and fast rule" on when to enact further measures.
State officials noted a state of emergency was not necessary in order for schools to close as warranted, and that businesses can make use of state-issued guidelines on handling concern about novel coronavirus in the workplace.
New Jersey health officials announced another public briefing on COVID-19 preparedness and response for Monday afternoon, after a teleconference with Vice President Pence and federal health officials.
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