New Jersey Reports Nine Coronavirus Deaths; Elections Postponed

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -
A parking lot at Garden State Plaza is almost completely empty in Paramus, N.J., Wednesday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Nine people have died from the coronavirus, up from five, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on Thursday.

Murphy said the state now has more than 700 positive cases and expects those to rise to the “many thousands.”

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The vast majority of people recover over a period of weeks.

Murphy also said he signed an order postponing a special election across the state, including in Atlantic City, and New Jersey’s biggest city, Newark, has instituted an 8 p.m. curfew in response to the outbreak.

A look at other developments:

MORE TESTING

Murphy said in a radio interview on Thursday that drive-through testing would begin Friday at Bergen Community College. Bergen County has been the state’s hardest-hit area.

He said that the testing would be mostly for health-care workers, and that people without symptoms should not try to get tested.

Another testing center would be opening soon in Holmdel, Monmouth County, he said.

ATLANTIC CITY ELECTION

Murphy signed an executive order postponing numerous elections until May 12.

They include fire district elections in Old Bridge that had been set for March 21, special municipal elections in Atlantic City and West Amwell Township set for March 31, as well as all school board elections scheduled for April 21.

These elections will also be conducted solely by mail-in balloting. The Atlantic City election will ask voters whether to eliminate an elected mayor position in favor of an appointed city manager, and would shrink the size of the City Council.

NEWARK’S CURFEW

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement that the curfew would be mandatory except for emergencies and for people commuting to work. He said essential stores like supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations could stay open beyond 8 p.m.

The curfew went into effect Wednesday and will be reevaluated on April 1, the mayor said.

Already, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the closing of schools, gyms, theaters, amusement parks, and indoors malls. Nonessential businesses are also closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily statewide, and the governor has urged people not to travel if they don’t have to.

“We’ve basically shut the state down,” Murphy said Thursday in a radio interview. “Stay home.”

WHAT TO DO

State health officials have recommended calling your health-care provider if you have symptoms, including fever and shortness of breath. Officials also point people to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which recommends people stay home except to get medical care.

On Wednesday, the state announced a new number that residents can call with coronavirus-related questions, to augment the existing hotline operated by the New Jersey Poison Control Center.

The new 211 number is operated by the United Ways of New Jersey and provides information and referral services. Residents also can text NJCOVID to 898-211.