New Jersey reports 9 total coronavirus deaths; elections postponed

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Gov. Phil Murphy says four more people have died from coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number of fatalities to nine.

The governor said Thursday that more than 700 cases have tested positive. He says he thinks the figure will rise into the “many thousands” before the crisis is over. For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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State officials also announced the patients in at least six nursing homes statewide have been exposed to the virus.

“It’s concerning, clearly. Anything like that is concerning,” says Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

Health officials say that they are engaged in a global war against the illness.

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A drive-through testing facility at Bergen Community College is expected to open Friday. It will be able to test 2,500 symptomatic people each week. But officials say that it will take three to four weeks to reopen a closed hospital in southern New Jersey.

Murphy also announced more restrictions designed to keep people in their homes practicing social distancing. All “personal care” businesses like beauty and nail salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors must close by 8 p.m. Thursday, and remain closed until further notice.

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Murphy also signed an executive order postponing numerous elections until May 12. These include special elections scheduled in Atlantic City, Old Bridge and West Amwell, as well as some school board elections that were scheduled. All those new May elections will only take mail-in ballots.

The governor said that New Jersey’s June 2 Primary Election is still on – but he says that this could change.

The Associated Press Wire Services contributed to this report.

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