Coronavirus: As Murphy Declares State of Emergency, Officials Focus on Mitigation, Containment

Taken from NJSpotlight.com

By LILO H. STAINTON

March 10, 2020

Public officials are working across state lines to piece together an expanding and increasingly complex puzzle when it comes to coronavirus in New Jersey, with cases diagnosed in six counties as of Monday and exposure linked to populated areas like New York City; Westchester County, New York and Boston.

The number of cases of coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, has ramped up quickly in recent days in the Garden State and throughout the tri-state region — as public health experts predicted — prompting New Jersey leaders to focus additional attention on strategies to mitigate the impact of the virus on local communities, in addition to continuing their efforts to prevent or contain its spread entirely.

Monday evening, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a public health emergency across all 21 counties, signing an executive order that provides greater flexibility and additional resources for the 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,” Murphy said.

Of the 45 tests administered so far in New Jersey, 11 have come back positive for COVID-19, a flu-like infection that can cause mild symptoms in most patients, but has proven deadly for some elderly or immune-compromised individuals. The virus has infected more than 113,000 people worldwide, including at least 600 in the United States, nearly two-dozen of whom have died.

As of now, decisions about how to employ those mitigation strategies — like closing schools and cancelling gatherings — are being made by state officials on a case-by-case basis, or left to county and local officials, health care leaders and the business community. Public health officials said the number of cases and transmission patterns did not yet warrant statewide bans and closures, but they plan to discuss the options at a task force meeting today.

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