New Jersey Announces 2nd Positive Case of New Coronavirus

EWING, N.J. (AP) -
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco speaks to reporters during a news conference in Fort Lee, N.J., Thursday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A woman in her 30s tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming New Jersey’s second such case, Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver said Thursday, as officials disclosed that the first case involved a health care worker who spent time in both New York and Fort Lee.

The new case involves a Bergen County woman with mild symptoms, who is in isolation at home, according to Oliver and state health officials. The details came late Thursday, after a news conference when state officials disclosed that the patient had earlier been hospitalized in Englewood, Bergen County, not far from the city.

“As we said in the past, we would not be surprised to see cases in New Jersey,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “But most New Jersey residents are at very low risk of contracting COVID-19.”

The details about the second patient came only hours after authorities disclosed information about the first patient. He’s a man in his 30s who works in New York and stayed at homes in both the city and Fort Lee, according to local officials. He is doing well at Hackensack University Medical Center, other officials said.

It’s unclear exactly where in New York he worked, Persichilli said, adding that she and other officials said they’re still investigating the patients’ histories.

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said the man, hospitalized in Hackensack, was in New York over the weekend, went to work Monday in New York, felt ill and came to Fort Lee Monday evening and then sought treatment. Tedesco stressed “there was no known contact with anyone here in Fort Lee.”

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said the man lives with his family in New York but has an apartment in Fort Lee and doesn’t have school-age children.

“This case is not related to any other cases that we are aware of,” Sokolich said.

Persichilli said the first patient is not linked to Westchester, New York, cases.

Tedesco said some Bergen County residents who have had contact with people in the Westchester County community where the virus has spread are self-quarantining, but he didn’t say how many.

Ihor Sawczuk, a doctor at Hackensack University Hospital, where the first patient is hospitalized, said he is “resting comfortably and doing well.”

So far, 13 people have been tested for COVID-19 in New Jersey, Perschilli said. The other 11 cases have come back negative.

There is no further information regarding the second case. It’s not yet known how the two patients caught the virus.

Persichilli said the Health Department is continuing “infection control options” and asking those who were in contact with the patients to self-quarantine for at least two weeks.

Oliver also announced that International travel for state workers is banned for now and said that domestic travel for state workers would need to get approval from the governor’s office.

Both cases are labeled as “presumptive” and have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.

These developments came as federal health officials said they were providing the state with $1.75 million in what they called initial funding to respond to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The U.S. House also passed an $8.3 billion bipartisan bill to combat the virus earlier Wednesday.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that the state was preparing for the likelihood that New Jersey would see a case at some point. Persichilli said the state has 700 hospital rooms capable of isolating patients, if needed.

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.

Murphy is out of the state after having had surgery to remove what he said was likely a cancerous tumor on his kidney.