NJ 'Major Disaster' Area: 2,492 New Coronavirus Cases, 19 Deaths

Tom Davis

This article originally appeared on the Morristown Patch

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.

Also:

  • 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:

New Jersey Coronavirus Updates: Don't miss local and statewide announcements about novel coronavirus precautions. Sign up for Patch alerts and daily newsletters.

Here's what else you should know:

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.