Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli confirmed on March 5 that 13 people in New Jersey have been tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus, yielding 11 negative and two positive results, with eight more cases under investigation.
A male in his early 30s who tested presumptive positive is currently hospitalized at Hackensack University Medical Center and another patient at Englewood Hospital is being investigated.
Oliver said the state has been preparing for weeks, with the coronavirus task force meeting regularly and aggressively pursuing its investigations.
Persichilli recommended engaging in common sense measures such as washing hands for at least 20 seconds with cold water, refraining from touching one’s eyes and face. She added that positive results are not surprising given the worldwide spread of COVID-19 and expanded testing.
She said that the source of exposure for the Hackensack patient is being investigated while teams are working around the clock to respond potential to new cases.
Persichilli said that the health department has been coordinating with local schools, hospitals and businesses, and plans to expand its efforts to include long-term care facilities.
Dr. Christina Tan, a state epidemiologist, said most cases of COVID-19 are mild and elderly and patients with underlying health conditions are at increased risk.
Tan said that the state would likely see more cases in the near future.
Dr. Ihor Sawczuk, president, Northern Region and chief research officer, Hackensack Meridian Health, said the patient at HUMC is doing well and the team there has taken the proper precautions, working with the Department of Health according to protocols from the CDC.
Oliver urged residents who want information about COVID-19 to visit the Health Department’s website or call the coronavirus hotline at 1-800-222-1222.