As coronavirus worries continue to plague the nation, a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency were recently declared by Gov. Phil Murphy to ramp up New Jersey’s efforts to contain the spread.
As of March 11, New Jersey reported 23 cases of coronavirus with one death. The 60-year-old man reportedly had high blood pressure and diabetes. The man worked at Yonker Raceway, which is now closed.
“We are sad to report the first death in a case of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Our prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said in a joint statement. “We remain vigilant to doing all we can—across all levels of government—to protect the people of New Jersey.”
The declaration tasks the State Director of Emergency Management and Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan, in conjunction with New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, to oversee the implementation of the State Emergency Operations plan and generally direct the state’s emergency response.
“The State of New Jersey is committed to deploying every available resource, across all levels of government, to help respond to the spread of COVID-19 and keep our residents informed,” said Murphy. “My administration will continue to work closely with our federal partners to ensure that local health agencies on the front lines of the state’s response are equipped with the resources needed to further prepare our healthcare system for a broader spread of COVID-19.”
This week, Congressman Donald M. Payne led a subcommittee hearing that found the United States could handle the amount of coronavirus cases right now, but health experts said it was far from ready if the disease continues to spread.
Experts told members of the House Committee on Homeland Security that states lack the number of coronavirus kits to test citizens and the administration is not seeking out people who might be infected, preferring to wait until they get sick.
A New Jersey Department of Health official said the state could only test a few hundred of its almost nine million residents.
“The administration’s response to this public health crisis has been woefully inadequate,” said Payne. “We need to get up to speed to make sure our citizens have the health protections they need. The public does not know enough about the administration’s plan to attack coronavirus and hysteria is caused by not knowing. The more information we can get to the public, the better off we will be.”
In Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka said his office is closely monitoring the developments and impact of the coronavirus. Officials are communicating with Newark and county hospitals/medical facilities, Newark Public Schools, and the business community to ensure that the city is well prepared. There have been no cases reported in Newark.
“It is our sincere hope that we have some resolve in the near future. In the interim, we will work hard to keep everyone safe and informed,” Baraka said.