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New Jersey Protocols in Place to Fight Coronavirus

NJ Transit is the latest institution in the state to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

While there are still no confirmed cases of any individual infected with the virus in the state as of March 4, churches, schools and state agencies are developing or enacting plans in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. 

NJ Transit is enhancing current cleaning procedures across its system. The agency increased the frequency of cleaning regimens for all stations using cleaning agents that are deemed effective for these purposes and contain anti-viral components such as bleach/water mixes and other disinfectant sprays and liquids.  

Areas regularly cleaned include doors, door knobs, windows, benches, partitions, trash cans, elevators, escalators, handrails, ledges, all restrooms and floor surfaces and all floor mats.

Worship Modified

Places of worship are modifying how the hold services as well in attempts to keep attendees health.

The dioceses of Newark and Paterson issued directives aimed to decrease the risk for Catholic church-goers during one of its holiest times of the year, Lent.

  • Priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are urged to practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins and/or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.
  • Advised parishioners sickness is a valid reason not to attend Mass or other Church gatherings. As such, any individual who is sick or has flu-like symptoms is urged to stay home. 
  • The sign of peace should be exchanged without physical contact.
  • Distribution of the winet from the chalice to parishioners is to be suspended and no one is obliged to receive the eucharist on the tongue.

The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey recommended congregants avoid intinction, when congregants dip communion bread into a cup of wine, according to The Record. The practice may increase the spread of illness, “as the bread or wafer spends more time in the possibly unclean hand before being dipped in the wine.” 

School Plans

New Jersey officials urged schools to update plans for outbreaks and pandemics and to reconsider travel, under new guidelines issued to K-12 districts, child care centers and universities.

The state Department of Health outlined steps for communications, school closings, preventive measures and spring-break trips in the guidelines March 2. Schools are advised to create leadership teams and communications plans, to have flexible attendance and sick-leave policies in place and to prepare for home-based instruction.

If schools are closed due to quarantines, child care programs and school buildings can open for staff while students stay home. This would allow teachers to develop and deliver lessons remotely and for other staff to continue to provide services.

“They’ll continue education whether it’s through online platforms, whether it’s through – a lot of communications, Google Docs, Google Drive is one of the most popular platforms they have,” Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet said. “A lot of school districts have various platforms that can deliver information or instruction via the Internet.”

Travel Abroad

Officials want families and staff traveling for spring break to consider potential risks at their destination, including the chance of contracting the virus and likelihood of quarantine when they return. Destinations with “sustained community transmission should be avoided…Any person or group planning a trip outside of the United States should consult the CDC website for current travel advisories regarding any restrictions on travel,” the guidelines state. 

Some colleges, including Rutgers University and Seton Hall University, canceled international study and spring break trips. Fairleigh Dickinson University is suspending all university-sponsored international student trips for the remainder of the semester and told faculty, staff and students that they may not travel to countries with CDC Level 3 warnings, which currently cover Italy, Iran, China and South Korea for school-related activities..

CDC Guidelines

In an attempt to stem the spread nationwide, The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) wants U.S. residents to stay home if they are sick; wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with those who are sick; and cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, then wash hands

Worldwide, more than 92,000 people have been infected, and over 3,100 have died, the vast majority of them in China. There were more than 100 cases reported in 15 states of the U.S. and at least nine deaths due to the virus as of March 3, according to the Associated Press.  

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