Little Ferry man becomes state’s first death due to coronavirus; state of emergency declared in Bergen County

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A Bergen County man who became New Jersey's first casualty to coronavirus was a prominent figure in the horse racing community.

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Standardbred Owners Association (SOA) of New York President Joe Faraldo identified the patient as John Brennan, 69, of Little Ferry, according to a post on the Harness Racing Update Facebook page.

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New Jersey officials did not identify the man, but say that he had underlying health issues before contracting COVID-19. Officials say that he suffered from diabetes, hypertension, emphysema and other medical conditions before he contracted coronavirus.

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Officials say that he went to his doctor last week with a cough and was given Tamiflu, but did not improve.

Brennan had been hospitalized at Hackensack University Medical Center since last Friday and his condition began to deteriorate on Monday night. He was revived from cardiac arrest on Monday, but suffered another Tuesday morning and died.

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Yonkers Raceway canceled Tuesday's races as a precaution. Brennan was a partial owner and trainer of the Hambletonian runner-up Sugar Trader.

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Just hours after officials announced Brennan's death, a state of emergency was declared by Bergen County Executive James Tedesco.

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Tedesco read an executive order that authorized all county agencies to help local governments combat and recover from the virus. Little Ferry Mayor Mauro Raguseo says his town will stay strong.

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"No one wanted this day to come, but it is here and we are going to get through this,” says Raguseo. “We are a resilient town, and it may be shocking and frightening to the residents of Little Ferry. I’m telling you, we’ll get through this.”

Under the state of emergency, international and domestic travel to affected states for county business has been halted. All special services and technical schools in the county are closed through next week.

Bergen Community College also remains closed through next week. All visitations to the Bergen County Health Care Center in Rockleigh and the Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus are suspended until further notice.

Tedesco says the state of emergency will last as long as there is a coronavirus threat.

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