NEW JERSEY – President Donald Trump declared New Jersey a major disaster area on Thursday as Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking during a press conference, announced a stunning increase in coronavirus cases: 2,492, as well as 19 more deaths (you can watch it live, below).
The case total was the largest increase, by far, in any one day in New Jersey, which Murphy attributed largely to increased testing. There are now 6,876 cases in New Jersey and 81 deaths.
- Murphy said the issue of reopening schools will not be revisited until April 17.
- Murphy said that, on Saturdays, only symptomatic health care workers and first responders will be tested at Bergen Community College and the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel.
Murphy said he would be the "happiest guy" in New Jersey and America if the state can "break the back" of the coronavirus's upward curve and allow him to reopen the state' economy, as well as allow kids to get back to school.
But the state's not there yet, he said.
"This is a marathon and we've got to accept that," he said. "If we can continue doing what we've been doing for the last five days, we're off to a really good start."
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli announced the deaths:
- 4 individuals in Essex County
- 3 individuals in Bergen County
- 3 individuals in Middlesex County
- 2 individuals in Burlington County
- 2 individuals in Monmouth County
- 2 individuals in Morris County
- 1 individuals in Ocean County
- 1 individuals in Passaic County
- 1 individuals in Somerset County
Persichilli also provided a county-by-county breakdown of the new cases:
- Atlantic 2
- Bergen 357
- Burlington 16
- Camden 13
- Cape May 2
- Cumberland 1
- Essex 203
- Gloucester 10
- Hudson 158
- Hunterdon 9
- Mercer 28
- Middlesex 183
- Monmouth 179
- Morris 64
- Ocean 144
- Passaic 133
- Salem 1
- Somerset 35
- Sussex 20
- Union 147
- Warren 12
Another 755 cases require further investigation and were not assigned to a county, Persichilli said.
Trump, meanwhile, declared that a major disaster exists in New Jersey and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus.
The president's disaster declaration makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all areas in New Jersey.
Federal funding is also available to state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures.
“With our major disaster declaration approved, New Jersey will now have access to greater essential federal support to help our residents through this emergency,” said Murphy. “This declaration will allow us to lift remaining bureaucratic barriers to assistance and enhance our statewide response to COVID-19. I am grateful to the administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their collaboration and coordination in supporting our response and recovery efforts to COVID-19 in New Jersey.”
In his request dated March 23, Murphy requested two types of statewide assistance:
- Individual assistance, which provides assistance to individuals and households
- Public assistance, which includes assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.
The declaration comes as New Jersey continues to battle the effects of the outbreak. Read more: NJ Coronavirus Updates: Here's What You Need To Know
Jobless claims surged in New Jersey on Thursday, a 1,546 percent increase over the previous week, because of the coronavirus crisis. Read more: NJ Unemployment Claims Surge To Record High In Coronavirus Crisis
Statewide student assessments have been cancelled as schools remain closed due to the outbreak. Read more: NJ Cancels Statewide Student Assessments Due To Coronavirus
Watch Murphy here:
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Here's what else you should know:
- State health officials said they believe the virus is "community-spread" in New Jersey. "Community-spread indicates that the coronavirus is amongst us," Persichilli announced. Read more: Coronavirus May Be 'Community-Spread' In NJ
- Murphy issued a stay-at-home order, closing all non-essential business at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 21. Read more: Gov. Murphy Announces NJ 'Stay-At-Home' Order Due To Coronavirus
- On Monday, March 16, Murphy announced that all schools would close on Tuesday, March 17. Read more: NJ Schools Will Close Due To Coronavirus Outbreak: Gov. Murphy
- Here are 10 resources for you and your family to utilize as you navigate through the outbreak: Unemployment, Tests, Food: 10 NJ Resources In Coronavirus Crisis
- Murphy issued an executive order on Thursday, March 19 to ensure voters can exercise their right to vote without risking their health and safety. Read more: Coronavirus Alters NJ Election Procedure, Moves Election Dates
- The first person in New Jersey to die of the coronavirus was reported on Tuesday, March 10. Read more: First NJ Coronavirus Death, 4 New Cases: Governor
- New Jersey's courts suspended all new jury trials until further notice, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said on Thursday, March 12. Read more: Coronavirus Throws Monkey Wrench Into New Jersey Court System
- State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner announced on Saturday, March 14 that municipal court sessions will be suspended.
- The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission said it's also closing temporarily. Read more: New Jersey MVC Shuts Down Because Of Coronavirus
- A new report from ProPublica says New Jersey hospitals would be hard pressed to meet demand – even in a best-case scenario – if the coronavirus outbreak surges. Read more: NJ Hospitals Lack Beds For Coronavirus Surge: Report
- Four members of the same New Jersey family died from the coronavirus, according to March 19 reports. Read more:
- Federal Tax Day Postponed To July 15 Amid Coronavirus Outbreak The deadline for Americans to file federal taxes was moved from April 15 to July 15, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted on Friday, March 20. Read more:
- After two FEMA sites opened, officials said five more counties will be getting coronavirus testing sites. Read more: Coronavirus Drive-Through Testing Sites To Open In 5 NJ Counties
How It Spreads
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
While the best way to prevent illness is to avoid virus exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention always recommends taking preventive actions to contain the spread of viruses. This includes:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.