TRENTON, N.J. - The number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey has surged to at least 1,914, with 21 fatalities reported.
Gov. Phil Murphy expressed anger Sunday at reports of people in New Jersey ignoring his stay-at-home order and warned “We’re going to take action.”
Saying he wanted “no gatherings of any kind,” Murphy acknowledged the difficulty of enforcing such an order in every part of the state but said he wanted people to “stay home, period.”
FULL COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS
“I take personal responsibility for the public health and safety of New Jersey,” he tweeted. “If you are unhappy about our aggressive social distancing measures, I’m sorry. But your safety is my highest priority.”
A closer look at the latest developments:
Below is a breakdown of positive COVID-19 cases by county.
– Bergen County: 457
– Essex County: 172
– Monmouth County: 158
– Middlesex County: 147
– Hudson County: 126
– Union County: 124
– Morris County: 119
– Ocean County: 102
– Passaic County: 95
– Somerset County: 51
– Mercer County: 40
– Burlington County: 26
– Camden County: 24
– Hunterdon County: 16
– Sussex County: 12
– Warren County: 9
– Gloucester County: 8
– Atlantic County: 5
– Cape May County: 2
– Cumberland County: 1
A graphic illustrates the importance of social distancing in order to reduce the number of infected patients during a pandemic. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office)
WHAT TO DO
State health officials have recommended calling your health care provider if you have symptoms, including fever and shortness of breath. Officials also point people to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which recommends people stay home except to get medical care.
On Wednesday, the state announced a new number residents can call with coronavirus-related questions, to augment the existing hotline operated by the New Jersey Poison Control Center.
The new 211 number is operated by the United Ways of New Jersey and provides information and referral services. Residents also can text NJCOVID to 898-211.
A drive-thru coronavirus testing center in New Jersey once again reached capacity Sunday morning shortly after opening, but the site will reopen Monday — and a second drive-thru center is also expected to open that day in another county.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said on his Facebook page that the site at Bergen Community College would reopen at 8 a.m. Monday. He said the county has the most cases in the state and has recorded five deaths, so “it is important that we test as many symptomatic residents as possible.”
The mass testing center was at capacity minutes after opening Saturday for its second day of operations. NorthJersey.com reported that hundreds of cars were waiting in lines, but less than 15 minutes after opening police began turning people away.
Tedesco urged people coming to the site, who must be New Jersey residents, to be patient. They will be screened for symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath and coughing.
On Monday, officials say a second drive-thru coronavirus testing site will open at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel in Monmouth County.
New Jersey health officials are issuing an urgent call for blood donations.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli told reporters during a briefing Sunday that there was a constant need for blood but the current need was becoming “increasingly urgent.”
Persichilli also said officials are “aggressively planning” to open closed hospitals, stand-up field hospitals and closed wings of existing hospitals in order to deal with coronavirus patients.
INMATES TEST POSITIVE
Two Hudson County jail inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting a modified lockdown of the facility, officials said Sunday.
Both inmates have been quarantined on site, and no detainees or staff tested positive. County spokesman James Kennelly told NorthJersey.com that no immigration detainees being held for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the jail or staff have tested positive.
For the next 14 days, steps will include daily temperature taking of staff, inmates and detainees, the county said. Officials also said contact tracing would be done along with sanitizing of the entire complex.
Murphy signed a bill late Thursday that allows the state Assembly and Senate to meet at locations other than the statehouse in Trenton, including remotely through the use of technology.
The bill passed the Democrat-led Legislature unanimously.
The governor also signed into law two bills aimed at promoting remote health services, or telehealth.
One measure authorizes any health care practitioner to provide telehealth services while the COVID-19 emergency is in effect. The bill waives any regulations or requirements impeding such services.
The other bill lets professional and occupational licensing boards expedite out-of-state professionals during a state of emergency or a public health crisis.
Both measures passed unanimously.
NJ TRANSIT SUFFERING
New Jersey Transit's ridership plummeted almost 90% in the last week with little improvement in sight, the agency wrote Thursday in a letter to the state’s Congressional delegation asking members to seek $1.25 billion in federal aid. In addition to the significant drop in fare revenue, the agency’s operating costs are rising as workers perform enhanced cleaning of stations and rolling stock.
In a conference call Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez stressed that federal aid, which he said should be upward of $1 trillion nationwide, would have to include significant aid to shore up NJ Transit.
Federal authorities in New Jersey on Saturday urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to the coronavirus outbreak.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said suspected schemes should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling the hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Murphy on Thursday also signed legislation aimed at preventing the removal of people from their homes because of foreclosure or eviction.
The bill authorized the governor to sign an executive order declaring a prohibition on removing people from their homes after an eviction or foreclosure proceeding. The governor signed such an executive order shortly after approving the legislation.
Murphy says the order will ensure that no renter or homeowner is removed from their residence.
The state’s more than 600 school districts will be affected. Most of them had already closed.
The chief justice of New Jersey’s court system announced a two-week suspension of municipal court sessions to mitigate public exposure to the coronavirus.
Teaneck, Bergen County, has been a hotspot, and the mayor has asked residents to self-quarantine. Hoboken has instituted a citywide curfew that is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. It requires all residents to remain in their homes, barring emergencies. People who are required to report to work are exempted.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.