By: Christian Oberly
Updated: 5-26-2020, 3:31 p.m.
Keep an eye on this page for information and local updates related to the novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. The virus causes a disease that has been named COVID-19 — which is short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”
Currently, there have been 155,764 positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey and 11,191 deaths. New Jersey has, as of May 26, tested over 635,000 individuals for the virus. The governor’s office has been holding regular, daily briefings to discuss the situation.
Current known locations of positive cases in South Jersey by county are listed below. For a full breakdown of all 21 New Jersey counties, please visit the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Atlantic County: 2,049 cases, 149 deaths
Camden County: 6,171 cases, 307 deaths
Cape May County: 571 cases, 48 deaths
Cumberland County: 2,024 cases, 63 deaths
Gloucester County: 2,103 cases, 138 deaths
Salem County: 573 cases, 29 deaths
The governor’s office is also tracking data related to hospitalizations in our state.
Currently hospitalized: 2,723
Currently in intensive care or critical care: 786
Currently on ventilators: 578
Patients discharged in the past 24 hours: 131
May 26: Governor Phil Murphy today announced that the state plans to release official guidance for allowing “socially-distanced” outdoor graduation ceremonies beginning on July 6. The details of the plans have not been disclosed yet, but Murphy insisted that they are being drafted so that the Class of 2020 can safely celebrate their accomplishments.
Additionally, Murphy announced that professional sports teams that train or play in New Jersey will soon be able to return to training camps and competition, provided the venues hosting such things are able to maintain proper cleaning procedures.
May 20: Governor Murphy, Walmart, and Quest Diagnostics today announced that seven Walmart stores across New Jersey will open COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites beginning May 22. The testing sites, which will be supported by state and local officials, will test adults who meet the CDC, state, and local criteria on who should be tested — including first responders, health care providers, and others with symptoms of COVID-19, as well as those in high-risk groups without symptoms.
“A strong testing program is one of the foundational principles for New Jersey’s road back to restart and recovery,” said Governor Murphy. “I am incredibly grateful for our partnership with Walmart and Quest Diagnostics to expand our testing capacity and bring these critical testing resources into our communities to increase access for our residents.”
The governor’s announcement provided additional details about the new testing sites:
“COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites will open Friday, May 22, in the parking lots of Garfield, North Bergen, Kearny, Flemington, Burlington, Howell, and Mount Laurel Walmart stores located at:
- 174 Passaic St, Garfield, NJ 07026
- 2100 88th St, North Bergen, NJ 07047
- 150 Harrison Ave, Kearny, NJ 07032
- 152 NJ-31 N, Flemington, NJ 08822
- 2106 Mt Holly Rd, Burlington Township, NJ 08016
- 4900 U.S. Hwy #9, Howell Township, NJ 07731
- 934 NJ-73, Mt. Laurel Township, NJ 08054
- The sites are open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays weekly from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., weather permitting.
- NOTE: The sites will be closed for Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, but will open Tuesday, May 26, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and resume their regular schedules on Wednesday.
- Testing is for adults who meet CDC and state and local guidelines on who should be tested, including first responders, health care providers, and others with symptoms of COVID-19, and those in high-risk groups without symptoms.
- Individuals must be 18 years and older.
- The testing sites will require an appointment through Quest’s MyQuestTM online portal and app, www.MyQuestCOVIDTest.com, which will screen and schedule appointments for those individuals that meet medical eligibility for the testing sites.
- Once on site, those being tested will need to wear a mask and stay in their cars for verification of eligibility criteria, ID check, and self-administered test. For the safety of all those on-site, the test site is not available to those who walk up.
- The sites will use a self-administered nasal swab test that will allow those being tested to swab their own nose onsite while in their vehicles, observed by a trained medical volunteer to ensure the sample is taken correctly, and drop the sealed sample into a container on their way out of the drive-thru site.
- Quest Diagnostics will handle processing test samples and communicating results to those tested and applicable departments of health.
- Any questions regarding testing and appointments, please call Quest’s dedicated COVID-19 line at 866-448-7719, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.
- The sites will be staffed by Walmart pharmacists and associates.
- While individuals who are tested are awaiting results, please follow CDC guidelines and take steps to help prevent the virus from spreading to people in your home and community.
May 19: During Governor Phil Murphy’s latest daily update, he announced that New Jersey’s 18,000 licensed pharmacists have officially been authorized to administer COVID-19 tests. Additionally, CVS pharmacies across the state will begin offering self-swab tests by the end of May.
And, in terms of reopening the state, the Department of Health has released guidance allowing the resumption of elective and non-urgent medical procedures. Murphy also announced that auto dealerships, motorcycle dealerships, and bike shops may resume in-person sales starting at 6 a.m. on May 20.
May 15: NJ Transit will be receiving $1.4 billion in CARES Act funding to keep our trains and buses operational during this public health emergency, Governor Murphy announced earlier today after a phone call with the White House.
Additionally, the governor signed an executive order that will lift the restriction on elective procedures and non-invasive surgery beginning on May 26th.
Governor Murphy also addressed the issue of the impending July 7 primary elections by saying that all registered Democrats and Republicans will receive mail-in ballots with pre-paid postage. All unaffiliated and unregistered voters will receive a ballot application with pre-paid postage.
Writing on Twitter, the governor said, “We will ensure that a limited number of in-person polling places in each county will be open to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to vote. No one should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote.”
The deadline for votes to be received by the board of elections will also be extended from 48 hours to seven days after polls close.
May 14: Governor Murphy announced plans to ensure that the Jersey Shore is safely reopened by Memorial Day weekend. This plan will give shore communities an “eight-day runway” to get themselves prepared. And while the exact nature of preparations is being left up to local leaders, Murphy stressed that beaches need to: establish capacity limits, enforce social distancing measures, prohibit contact sports and events, and implement proper and regular sanitation.
Shower pavilions, changing areas, and restrooms will be allowed to open. (And this includes bathrooms at state parks, once seasonal staff return to work.)
Boardwalk restaurants must continue to operate in a take-out and delivery-only fashion. Amusement parks, playgrounds, and visitor centers will remain closed — for now.
Additionally, in another update on the state of New Jersey’s long-term care (LTC) facilities, Murphy announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be providing five 10-person health care strike teams who will bolster the staff of LTC facilities across the state until June 30th.
May 13: In a move to slowly reopen the state’s economy, today Governor Murphy announced that he would be signing an executive order to allow the restart of non-essential construction, and also to allow non-essential retail stores to resume operation with curbside pickup only — effective this upcoming Monday at 6 a.m.
Drive-through and drive-in businesses are also allowed to open under this order, as long as they abide by social distancing guidelines.
Construction sites will be required to adhere to the following guidelines: prevent overcrowding, require face coverings, prohibit non-essential visitors, stagger work hours and breaks, and ensuring proper sanitation.
In another update, Murphy described the effect this continued public health emergency is having on the state’s revenue by noting that collections are down nearly 60% — “an unprecedented $3.5 billion.”
Fortunately, the statistics in New Jersey’s battle against COVID-19 are looking more optimistic each day as the number of total concurrent hospitalizations, patients on ventilators, new cases, and new deaths are all trending down.
May 12: Governor Phil Murphy announced today that the New Jersey Department of Health will be issuing a standing order to expand access to testing without a prescription for residents with possible exposure to COVID-19 who fall into priority categories and lack access to a primary care practitioner.
This is part of a greater push to further expand testing for COVID-19 in New Jersey. Murphy claimed that their goal is to provide at least 20,000 tests per day by the end of this month and continue building out capacity after that. A slide during his presentation showed an early forecast that testing would increase to over 25,000 tests per day by the end of June, assuming all the right pieces fall into place.
Another new development announced today is that the Department of Health will also require all staff and residents of long-term care facilities in the state be tested for COVID-19 by May 26, with follow-up testing not less than one week later.
May 8: Governor Murphy announced the “Governor’s Restart and Recovery Council,” described as “a statewide council of leaders to advise on New Jersey’s restart and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” This should not be confused with the similarly-named “Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission” that was announced last week. The two groups will work together — with the council focused on tactics, and the commission focused on “strategy” — with some overlap between the two.
This new council will be co-chaired by New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan, and Choose New Jersey President and CEO Jose Lozano. The council will feature nine subcommittees, each of which will be chaired by a council co-chair. The subcommittees are as follows: Facilities and Construction, Government, Health Care, Main Street, Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Professional Services, Social Service and Faith, Tourism and Entertainment, Transportation and Infrastructure.
May 7: During Governor Murphy’s daily COVID-19 press briefing, he noted that, in terms of the hospitalization stats, the number of people hospitalized has gone below 1,500 for the first time since April 4 — a good sign in the battle against COVID-19. Unfortunately, despite improving numbers in the hospitals (the numbers of patients needing intensive care and ventilators are also down) the state is still seeing hundreds of new cases and deaths each day.
The situation in our state’s long-term care (LTC) facilities is particularly dire, as a large number of the total deaths in New Jersey have occurred at those facilities. That is why, yesterday, Murphy announced a team would be reviewing the situation at our state’s LTC facilities to make improvements. Additionally, it was announced today that the New Jersey National Guard would be sending 120 soldiers to assist with logistical, culinary, custodial, and other non-healthcare-related job functions at those facilities to take some of the pressure off of our vital healthcare workers.
May 6: Today, the governor announced that he would be signing an executive order to extend the public health emergency for another 30 days. This is the third time he has extended it, the other times being on March 9 and April 7. He was quick to note that this does not mean the state has changed any of its plans regarding its current response to COVID-19 or its commitment to reopening the state once they feel it is right to do so — these public health emergency declarations typically expire after 30 days, so he is just re-upping it once again.
Also, Governor Murphy said the state will be putting together a team to review its long-term care facilities to find ways to further protect residents and staff, as well as instituting systemic change in the way those facilities are operated going forward.
May 5: While attending Governor Phil Murphy’s daily COVID-19 press briefing, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that the DCA will begin a program to grant temporary emergency licenses to recent graduates of nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy, and respiratory care therapy programs to help bolster our state’s front-line health care workforce during this crisis.
May 4: At the beginning of Governor Murphy’s daily COVID-19 press briefing, he announced that a decision had been made to keep New Jersey’s school’s closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Additionally, any private school with a school year ending later than June 30 will remain closed until at least June 30. The governor said that this decision was not made lightly and that the state is working on plans to create opportunities for the Class of 2020 to celebrate their accomplishments in a safe way.
The state has also applied for $310 million in federal education assistance, including $280 million to help districts cover costs, including: purchasing educational technology, cleaning and sanitizing buildings, and ensuring student support services.
Additionally, the governor has rescinded Executive Order No. 73, which was signed last year and called for the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting to ensure the state built up a surplus of nearly $1.28 billion by the end of Fiscal Year 2020 — Murphy said today that this goal is unrealistic in light of the current pandemic and its fallout.
April 30: Governor Phil Murphy announced that, starting next week, there will be universal testing for Department of Corrections inmates and staff — as well as non-congregate shelter available for DoC staff who are exposed to COVID-19. Additionally, there are plans to make testing available for all NJ Transit staff at the American Dream testing site in East Rutherford. These actions are part of a continuing effort to protect the state’s front-line workers during this public health emergency, the governor said.
Also: Murphy delivered the latest updated stats about hospitalizations and ventilator use (see above) and said that the number of patients on ventilators — now at 1,271 — is the lowest it’s been since April 4. By his estimation, the social distancing measures are working and “flattening the curve.” Though he was quick to caution residents not to let their guard down or relax their precautions. Even as the state prepares to reopen parks this Saturday, Murphy warned that the decision to reopen them will quickly be reversed if it appears to cause a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the state.
April 29: A new executive order going into effect on Saturday, May 2 will reopen state parks with the following conditions:
1. Parking will be capped at 50% of capacity
2. Playgrounds, pavilions, visitor centers, and restrooms will remain closed.
3. Picnics, organized activities, and team sports will remain prohibited.
4. Face coverings are recommended to be worn when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
It will still be up to the individual municipalities to open municipal parks.
Additionally, Governor Phil Murphy announced that petitions seeking to place municipal or county initiatives or referendums on ballots can be signed electronically. This is to prevent the need for this to be done in person.
Also, the Department of Labor will begin notifying recipients of the first round of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments. Visit covid19.nj.gov if you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or a gig worker for information on PUA benefits.
And if you receive Supplemental Security Income and have a child eligible for the $500 stimulus payment, and have not filed a tax return, visit IRS.gov by May 5 for information on receiving that payment.
April 28: Governor Murphy announced he will be signing an executive order permitting municipal governments to extend the grace period for property tax payments due on May 1 until June 1.
Additionally, the governor listed the names and accomplishments of individuals who have been named to the Restart and Recovery Commission and spoke more about the goals of the group:
1. Advise on issues of public health, workforce development, and transportation.
2. Seek ways to maximize future federal support.
3. Review potential long-term investments.
4. Ensure restart and recovery works for every family.
April 27: Today, Governor Murphy described the planned steps and principles that will guide the reopening of our state. Outlining his office’s overall plan during the day’s press briefing, he established six main phases of reopening the state:
1. Sustained reductions in new cases and hospitalizations. The state wants to see a 14-day trend showing sustained drops in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics which reflect a decreasing burden of disease. This step also includes hospitals stepping down from functioning under crisis standards of care.
2. Expanded testing. The state plans to double our current testing capacity, while prioritizing testing for health care workers, essential personnel, and vulnerable populations. A flexible testing plan will be created and partnerships will be expanded with institutions of higher learning, private-sector labs, and the federal government.
3. Implement robust contact tracing. The state plans to recruit and deploy an “army” of personnel who will identify and follow-up with patients who test positive for COVID-19. They also intend to leverage technological data to increase efficiency while coordinating between local and state health officials.
4. Securing safe places for isolation. The state will aim to provide individuals who test positive for COVID-19 with a safe and free place to isolate — to prevent them from spreading the disease to others. The governor’s office plans to ensure supportive services are provided for those who are quarantined in this manner.
5. Responsible economic restart. To coordinate efforts to reopen the state’s economy, Governor Murphy has put together the “Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission” consisting of “economists, business leaders, labor leaders, and health care experts among them, with local, national, and global experience and knowledge.” They will devise a methodical and strategic return to work based on the level of disease transmission risk and essential classifications of workers. This return to work will be accompanied by continued efforts to social distance where appropriate.
6. Ensuring resiliency. The governor’s office is seeking to learn from the lessons taught by the COVID-19 outbreak. One of the ways they will prepare for any possible future pandemic is by ensuring hospitals and healthcare systems have inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. Building our own New Jersey stockpile is another piece of this plan, as well as creating a playbook to help future administrations handle a situation like this one.
April 24: Governor Phil Murphy announced a new executive order that will allow renters to use their security deposits to pay their rents during this public health emergency. A section for frequently asked questions pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords will be added to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard at covid19.nj.gov/renter.
April 23: During his daily press briefing, Governor Murphy announced that, starting next week, the state will begin testing all residents and staff at New Jersey’s five state developmental centers for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities using a new saliva-based COVID-19 test recently developed by Rutgers University. Murphy discussed the impact this new test — which has received emergency approval from the FDA — will have on our state’s testing capacity with the chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Brian L. Strom. Namely: that it will speed up testing by four times, since saliva is collected instead of using a nasal swab to collect a sample. Additionally, this new test will cut down on the amount of personal protective equipment needed because the samples can be collected much more easily.
In another update, the governor listed some stats from the Department of Labor in regards to the state’s unemployment situation. An additional 140,000 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment last week — and since March 15, 858,000 residents have filed for unemployment benefits in total. So far, New Jersey has paid out $1 billion in unemployment benefits.
April 22: Governor Murphy today announced that hospitals will soon be required to report demographic data to the state Department of Health to track statistics of COVID-19 patients related to age, race, sex, and underlying conditions. The requirement is for all patients admitted, as well as those who die of the disease, or those who seek (but do not receive) testing. This is part of an effort by the governor’s office to track how the spread of COVID-19 is affecting minority populations across the state. The information will be updated daily on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
April 21: Tomorrow night, the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund will present “Jersey 4 Jersey” a fundraiser that will be broadcast on multiple stations at 7 p.m. EST on Wednesday night. The event will feature a “star-studded” group of guests including Bruce Springsteen, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Bon Jovi, Danny DeVito, Halsey, SZA, and more — as well as interviews with front-line workers fighting against COVID-19. You can catch it on WABC Channel 7, WPVI 6ABC, WPIX, News12, and NJTV.
April 17: A drive-thru testing site will open in Salem County next week. Only Salem County residents who are symptomatic will be tested, and all are required to call ahead and be pre-screened. To obtain an appointment, you can call the Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers’ telehealth line at (609) 569-4510 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
April 16: Governor Phil Murphy has announced that New Jersey schools will remain closed until at least May 15. Despite how much he and others would like to send their kids back to school, keeping schools closed is an important factor in preventing the further spread of COVID-19 — especially as the state’s number of confirmed cases has soared from fewer than 200 a month ago to over 75,000 today.
Two additional announcements made today:
1. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Authority is suspending all rent increases at 36,000 eligible properties within its portfolio. This will help many people throughout the state who are struggling to pay rent at this time. Murphy also noted that those who are in need of assistance with rent because they’ve lost their job due to COVID-19 can search on the state’s COVID-19 information portal for the words “rent relief” to find information that can help them.
2. Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey (as well as the former acting director of the CDC back in 2009 during the swine flu outbreak) has been named by Governor Murphy to serve on the regional advisory board announced on April 13. In addition to Besser, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has also been added to the advisory board.
April 14: Governor Phil Murphy announced that he would be signing new bills to allow employees forced to care for family members because of COVID-19 up to 12 weeks of family leave in a 24-month period without losing their jobs and extend the tax filing deadline for income and corporate taxes from April 15 to July 15 and extend fiscal year 2020 to September 30.
Additionally, he signed an executive order to postpone deadlines to act on rule proposals and expirations of currently existing rules until 90 days after the current public health emergency has ended.
Murphy also provided an update on the New Jersey Department of Labor’s efforts to keep up with the influx of unemployment applications — which, according to the governor, have surged over 500,000 in the past three weeks. The NJDOL has expanded the capacity of call centers to handle the higher incoming call volume, has automated more processes to decrease the time it takes for applicants to receive a notice of eligibility, and has provided laptops to an additional 500 employees to facilitate working from home.
The New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association has also announced drive-thru, by-appointment-only testing sites for first responders and frontline healthcare workers. So far, three sites are announced: American Dream, Somerset, and Deptford. Visit their website for more information.
April 13: Governor Murphy announced the formation of a regional advisory board to coordinate cooperative mitigation efforts and guide the reopening of our area once the public health emergency passes. Murphy announced this during his usual press briefing shortly after discussing details of this collaborative effort on a conference call with the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
Additionally, he announced a new executive order prohibiting internet and phone services from being shut off until 30 days after this emergency has ended. The order also prohibits service downgrades, service reductions, or late fees due to nonpayment unless they are imposed in accordance with a policy approved by the Board of Public Utilities. And finally, the order also requires the reconnection of any internet or phone service that was disconnected due to nonpayment after March 16.
April 10: Murphy announced that he was signing an executive order to establish a process to provide temporary home confinement for certain incarcerated individuals or grant parole if already eligible through an expedited process. He was quick to clarify that no individual convicted of a serious crime (like murder or sexual assault) would be released under this order.
April 9: Murphy announced a new executive order he would sign that creates a 60-day grace period for health and dental insurance policies, as well as a 90-day grace period for home and auto insurance, renters insurance, life insurance, and for insurance premium-financing arrangements. These grace periods are similar to the 90-day grace period that was established for mortgage payments back on March 28.
April 8: Governor Murphy announced three more executive orders he would be signing as part New Jersey’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. An order to move primary elections scheduled for June 2 to July 7.
2. An order which strengthens social distancing precautions:
a. Non-essential construction across the state will cease as of 8 p.m. on April 10.
b. All customers and employees must wear face coverings at essential retail stores and the number of customers allowed in those stores must be kept at or below 50% of the store’s already-approved capacity. Stores must also set aside special shopping hours for at-risk populations and erect barriers between customers and cashiers/baggers.
c. Greater protections for workers at warehouses and factories.
3. An order which increases the weight limit for trucks carrying essential deliveries on highways from 40 to 46 tons.
April 7: Governor Murphy announced four more executive orders in addition to all the others he has signed thus far during the COVID-19 outbreak.
1. An extension on Executive Order 103 for an additional 30 days, which was the order that declared a public health emergency in New Jersey. (These expire after 30 days, normally.)
2. An order closing all state and county parks. Individual municipalities are allowed to make their own decisions about the status of municipal parks.
3. An order to extend deadlines for school districts whose April elections were postponed until May 12th. “This will ensure these districts have enough time to certify their budgets and make staffing decisions,” Murphy said.
4. An order waiving 2019-2020 school year assessment requirements for eighth and twelfth grade students due to COVID-19. “This will ensure that no student is left behind or unduly penalized due to these extraordinary circumstances,” he added.
In addition to all this, it was announced that a new testing site would open in Gloucester County at Rowan College of South Jersey’s Gloucester Campus located at 1400 Tanyard Road in Sewell on April 8. The testing site will be open to symptomatic Gloucester County residents only. Anyone who wants to be tested must be pre-screened by calling (856) 218-4142.
April 4: Governor Murphy announced that State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan would be signing an administrative order giving municipalities or counties the ability to prohibit all rentals to transient guests or seasonal tenants for the duration of this emergency, including at hotels and motels.
April 1: Governor Murphy announced that the state’s income tax filing deadline and business tax filing deadline would be extended to July 15 to match the extension announced by the Internal Revenue Service for federal taxes. Along with this, he has extended the state of New Jersey’s fiscal year to Sept. 15 to give state offices extra time for things like creating budgets for the next fiscal year. The FAFSA deadline has also been extended to June 1.
Murphy also signed an executive order today that will provide more protections and flexibility for hospitals and front-line health care responders. Another executive order — signed on April 2 — will allow state police to commandeer personal protective equipment if there is a necessity to do so.
The state of New Jersey has created a website for information about COVID-19, located at: https://covid19.nj.gov/. The site has a jobs portal that currently has over 49,000 available job postings from more than 600 critical businesses across the state.
March 26: The Delaware Memorial Bridge implemented cashless tolling for its southbound toll booths. E-ZPass customers may cross the bridge like they normally do, but motorists without E-ZPass will have their license plate captured and will receive a bill in the mail with no administrative fees attached. Cash customers who do not want to receive a bill may sign up for E-ZPass by calling the New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center at 888-AUTO-TOLL (888-288-6865) or by visiting www.ezpassnj.com.
Additionally, the South Jersey Transportation Authority has suspended cash collection at all toll locations on the Atlantic City Expressway as a precaution to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Tolls will be collected electronically or with coins in exact-change lanes. As with the Delaware Memorial Bridge’s process outlined above, E-ZPass customers will not have to do anything differently and customers who typically use cash will be mailed an invoice with no additional fees.
March 20: Governor Phil Murphy announced that testing fees for uninsured patients undergoing COVID-19 testing will be waived. “Every single New Jerseyan with symptoms must have access to COVID-19 testing if we are going to end this crisis,” said Governor Murphy. “Waiving testing fees for the uninsured is a critical step in allowing us to prevent more New Jerseyans from being infected and to identify those who already have been infected so they can get the care they need.”
March 16: Governor Murphy announced several precautions the state of New Jersey will be instituting to help slow down the rate of COVID-19 infection and “flatten the curve.” On March 17 and 19, the governor added more restrictions, and on March 21 he adjusted the restrictions further to help slow the spread of the disease.
- Restricting all non-essential, non-emergency travel at all hours of the day
- Cancellation of all events with gatherings of any number of people
- Closure of all non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses effective 9 p.m. on 3/21 and to continue indefinitely
- Daycare Centers must certify that they are serving the children of workers in essential industries in order to remain open
- Closure of all public, private, and parochial pre-K, K-12 schools, colleges, and universities beginning 3/18
- Closure of all casinos, racetracks, theaters, gyms, fitness centers, nightclubs, etc.
- Closure of all personal care businesses that cannot abide by social distancing guidelines, such as barbershops, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, etc.
- Closure of indoor malls and amusement parks
As of 8 p.m. on March 16, all bars and restaurants will cease dine-in operations until further notice. These establishments may continue with takeout and delivery service — and this restriction will continue during daytime hours.
All New Jersey counties currently have confirmed cases, with the last county to report a case being Salem County, according to NJ.com.
The World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic on March 11.
On March 9, Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency and a public health emergency for New Jersey. The official release states: “Executive Order No. 103 declares a state of emergency and public health emergency across all 21 counties in New Jersey, allowing state agencies and departments to utilize state resources to assist affected communities responding to and recovering from COVID-19 cases.”
Governor Murphy also announced efforts to support consumer access to COVID-19 screening, testing, and testing-related services. According to a statement from the governor’s office, the administration’s efforts will “waive consumer cost sharing for all medically necessary COVID-19 testing, as well as services related to testing. This waiver includes emergency room, urgent care, and office visits related to COVID-19 testing for the state’s individual, small and large group markets; the State Health Benefits and School Employee Health Benefits Plans; NJ FamilyCare’s CHIP population; and the state’s uninsured population, eligible for the Charity Care program.”
Additionally, the governor has stated that plans are in place to increase the state’s testing capacity over the coming days. A COVID-19 testing center began operation at Bergen County College on March 20, testing approximately 600 people during its first day of operation. Another testing center opened in Holmdel on March 23, and as of April 20 there are 73 locations where people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested. Testing locations in Cumberland County and Camden County have come online, and one in Atlantic City has begun operation.
At this time, few of the tested patients in New Jersey who have contracted COVID-19 have been marked as “recovered.” The Atlantic County Division of Public Health released a statement on March 31 to say that five patients in the county have recovered from the disease. The press release added, “[most] individuals with mild or moderate symptoms of the virus, such as fever and cough, are able to recover at home in about “two or more weeks.”
According to a World Health Organization Press Briefing on March 9, Dr. Michael Ryan (Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme) said that it may take “up to six weeks” to recover from this disease for some patients.
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19:
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face.
- Wear a face covering when you go outside and remain at least six feet from other people.
- Disinfect commonly-touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, railings, desks, etc.
- Avoid large gatherings of people, and cancel unnecessary travel.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Call your doctor if you experience symptoms of: fever, cough, or shortness of breath. They will give you further instructions.
The current global statistics for COVID-19 are being tracked by Johns Hopkins University and show over 5.5 million confirmed infections, over 340,000 deaths, and over 2.2 million people listed as recovered.
The governor’s office has instructed anyone looking for more information about New Jersey’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak to visit nj.gov/health or call toll-free: NJ In-State Hotline 1-800-222-1222, or Out-of-State 1-800-962-1253. Residents can also text NJCOVID to 898-211 for updates. People can also visit covid19.nj.gov for updates and to access the statewide jobs portal with over 66,000 positions across more than 740 essential businesses.
For more information, visit the CDC’s page regarding the novel coronavirus.