On a day where the confirmed cases rose to 11 not including the head of the Port Authority, and the stock market dropped over 2,000 points to its lowest point in 11 years, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency due to the coronavirus in New Jersey.
The proclamation applies to all 21 counties in the state, allowing state agencies and departments to utilize state resources to assist affected communities responding to and recovering from COVID-19 cases.
“The State of New Jersey is committed to deploying every available resource, across all levels of government, to help respond to the spread of COVID-19 and keep our residents informed,” said Gov. Murphy. “My administration will continue to work closely with our federal partners to ensure that local health agencies on the front lines of the state’s response are equipped with the resources needed to further prepare our healthcare system for a broader spread of COVID-19.”
Persichilli, Callahan on Point
Leading the response for the state will be New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Commissioner, Judith Persichilli and State Director of Emergency Management and Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick Callahan. Persichilli and Col. Callahan will oversee the implementation of the State Emergency Operations plan as well as directing the state’s emergency response.
Additionally, the declaration prohibits excessive price increases pursuant to New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and the ability to waive certain procurement procedures to expedite the delivery of goods and services necessary for coronavirus preparedness and response efforts.
Earlier in the day, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver disclosed five new patients were confirmed to have the virus. While there are 24 people currently in the process of being tested at the state lab, state officials do not know how many might be getting tested through private labs.
Two More North Jersey Cases
Included in the five were two residents of North Jersey, an unhospitalized 18-year-old from Clifton, who could have been in contact with a coronavirus patient in New York and a 30-year-old Teaneck resident, who was admitted to Holy Name Medical Center. That brings the total to seven residents of North Jersey who have tested positive.
Additionally, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey confirmed Executive Director Rick Cotton tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The agency’s statement said Cotton is currently asymptomatic and has self-quarantined at his home while maintaining a full schedule. Staff members who work closely with Cotton followed the guidelines and protocols put in place by New York and are working from home as well.
Congressmen were coordinating with health officials in North Jersey as well. Sen. Bob Menendez, visiting the North Hudson Community Action Corporation in Passaic, said the state and local health leaders were doing all they can, but need federal help.
“As I’ve said before, we need a seamless, coordinated federal, state, and local effort,” said Menendez. “We need the federal government to be on its game…to make sure they do everything in their power to protect public health and ultimately, save lives.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer hosted a conference call with North Jersey hospital officials to discuss efforts to combat the spread.
“We are all working in coordination to contain the outbreak and follow CDC guidelines,” said Gottheimer. “I’ve been working closely and in touch with the hospitals and the Governor’s office to address what resources our providers, counties, and state need.”
Gottheimer’s call included officials from Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, Valley Health System, Atlantic Health System, Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, and Holy Name Medical Center.
“It is critical that New Jersey continue working with our hospitals, health facilities, frontline medical professionals, communities, and the federal government to treat patients afflicted with this virus, to help make sure this outbreak is contained, and to keep our residents safe,” said Gottheimer.
The coronavirus is affecting the health of the economy, as the Dow sank 2,014 points, or 7.8%, to 23,848, its sharpest daily decline since 2008. The S&P 500 fell 7.6% to 2,746. and the Nasdaq Composite slid 7.3% to 7,950.
Large Sell Off
The sell off was so bad in morning trading, the circuit breaker was triggered that stopped trading for 15 minutes. At that time, the Dow and Nasdaq were down 19% from record highs set earlier this year and the S&P had fallen 18% from its high.
The sell off was heightened by Saudi Arabia’s decision to instigate a price war with Russia, sending oil prices to its lowest since the 1991 Gulf War. Brent crude shed 24% to $34.36 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures dropped 25% to $31.13 a barrel, the worst one-day sell off in nearly 30 years.
Efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak has led to a drop in business activity and curtailing global trade. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has exceeded 110,000, with over 3,800 fatalities globally.