Fort Lee Man First Diagnosed Coronavirus Patient in New Jersey

A 32-year-old man from Fort Lee who worked in New York City was the first person in New Jersey to test positive for the coronavirus.

The presumptive positive result came from a sample tested by the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) at the New Jersey Public Health Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) and is now being submitted to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing. State and local public health authorities are proceeding with the public health investigation and response activities as if this was a confirmed case. 

A second positive tests in North Jersey was disclosed by state officials, who had no further information on the individual.

“Any case of novel coronavirus in our state is concerning, however most New Jersey residents are at very low risk of contracting COVID-19,” said DOH Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “The department is working closely with the CDC and local health officials to respond to this case and is monitoring the evolving situation across the nation.”

HUMC Patient

The patient, who arrived at the emergency department at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) on March 3, exhibited symptoms that caused clinicians to suspect he had COVID-19, said Dr. Daniel M. Varga, the chief physician executive for Hackensack Meridian Health, which operates Hackensack Medical Center, according to The Record

The patient was “doing well and resting comfortably in an isolation room, according to hospital officials.

Gov. Phil Murphy, recovering from a surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney March 4, said in a press release that the state has been preparing for weeks in the instance a resident of New Jersey was diagnosed. 

“I urge residents to remain calm and use resources from the (DOH) and (CDC) to prepare and prevent the spread of infection,” stated Murphy. ”Safeguarding the public’s health is one of my highest priorities and my administration is prepared to respond swiftly to any additional positive cases of COVID-19 here in New Jersey.”

“Our administration has been coordinating across all levels of government, and with our federal partners, to ensure that we are active and engaged with preparedness and response plan,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver. 

State Investigation

HUMC is working closely with the state to make sure to follow all infectious disease protocols. The DOH investigation is underway, tracing close contacts of the individual to take appropriate public health actions.  

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who recently held a meeting in North Jersey that included health officials from HUMC to discuss coronavirus coordination, response, and preparedness, said he was in close contact with hospital officials and local leaders on the matter.

“I’m continuing to work with North Jersey hospitals, health facilities, and communities, and I’ve offered support of whatever they need to treat patients afflicted with this virus and to help make sure this outbreak is contained,” said the congressman.  

Aid Coming

The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan emergency legislation to immediately address the coronavirus outbreak March 4. The $8.3 billion bill provides emergency funding for a robust response to the crisis, including support for state and local health agencies, and vaccine and treatment development.

Among the allocations was more than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics; $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response; and nearly $1 billion for procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to support healthcare preparedness and Community Health Centers, and to improve medical surge capacity.

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