Gov. Phil Murphy Creates Task Force to Battle Coronavirus in New Jersey

State officials, transit authorities and higher education institutions in New Jersey are attempting to contain the coronavirus outbreak from spreading in the state.

Gov. Phil Murphy created a Coronavirus Task Force on Feb. 3 to coordinate all state efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the public health hazard posed by the novel coronavirus. 

The day before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it will require some passengers arriving from China, including those at Newark Liberty International Airport, to face a mandatory 14-day quarantine in an effort to slow the spread of a virus, reported The Record

And Princeton University revealed more than 100 students self-quarantined as of Feb. 2 after arriving back to the Ivy League school from trips to China, according to News 4 New York

Worldwide Outbreak

“With the outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus around the world, it is critical that New Jersey has strong preparedness protocols in place,” said Governor Murphy in a press release

The task force will have state and federal agencies and health officials working together to protect the health and safety of all New Jerseyans, according to the governor. 

The Coronavirus Task Force is chaired by Judith Persichilli, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, and will include representatives from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety within the Office of the Attorney General, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Department of Education, and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. The state is working closely with the CDC and local health partners to monitor the situation and will provide updates accordingly as well. 

“Outbreaks like this – when a new virus is emerging to infect people – are always concerning,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli. “The situation poses a serious public health threat, but the risk to New Jersey residents remains low and our level of preparedness is high.”

New Jersey has no confirmed cases of the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and the state has no Persons Under Investigation (PUI) as of Feb. 3.

CDC Quarantine

From a federal viewpoint, the CDC will require the 14 days in quarantine for anyone who has traveled in China’s Hubei province within the previous 14 days and any other passengers from China who have symptoms of the virus, such as a fever, cough or chest tightness. The virus originated in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

For the students at Princeton, the students must confine themselves for 14 days following their last time in mainland China, deputy university spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss told News4 New York. The guidance applies to individuals who arrived in the U.S. prior to 5 p.m. Feb. 1. Those who arrived after that time will receive advice about quarantine at the border, according to the university.

Based on that guidance issued by the New Jersey Department of Health, University Health Services is assessing the exposure risk of each individual who has been in self-quarantine, placing them into one of three risk categories: high, medium, or low. Individuals who are determined to be at low risk are not required to self-quarantine. The university says it expects “most of our students to fall into this category.”

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