6 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in NJ; state recommends cancellation of all gatherings of 250+ people

State health officials announced that there are six new “presumptive positive” cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in the state, bringing the number of infected to 29.
State officials made the announcement at a news conference Thursday afternoon, along with the recommendation by Gov. Phil Murphy to cancel any public gatherings of 250 or more people. This recommendation follows Wednesday’s restrictions on assisted living facilities and pediatric care centers – to limit vulnerable people’s potential exposure to the virus.

The new cases include a 16-year-old girl from Englewood who was admitted to Englewood Hospital, a 66-year-old woman from Montclair, a 51-year-old man from Butler and a 53-year-old man from Manalapan.
A Teaneck woman is also among the infected – the fourth patient from that town. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that this woman, whose age was unknown, seems to have contracted the virus after attending a carnival at a synagogue in New York.
Persichilli also said that a 23-year-old Bridgewater man had contracted the virus after coming into close contact with a Pennsylvania resident who had the illness. Persichilli said that the increasing number of cases is dictating the state’s response to the outbreak.
“We’re in this exactly one week. One week ago, we had one case, and now we have 29. The trajectory alone, looking at that, in relation to the trajectory of what has happened in other states, I think is the motivating factor for us to stop back and say, ‘What further mitigation strategies should we undertake?’” the commissioner said.
The governor said that for any public events that do take place, the public should practice smart hygiene. This includes washing of hands thoroughly, coughing and sneezing into arms and not on hands. He also says that anyone feeling ill should try to stay home and not go out in public. He also recommended that members of the public keep six feet of distance from anybody else.
“We’re taking the step because we know social distancing works,” Murphy said. “Let’s be smart about this.”
Murphy’s recommendation about canceling public events is a suggestion and not an order. But the New Jersey State Police said that law enforcement officials do have the authority under the emergency declaration to prevent or end any large gatherings if they become an issue.
The governor said that anyone who had questions or concerns about the virus should visit the state’s health website or call the 24-hour health hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
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