Another person to be tested for coronavirus in New Jersey; no confirmed cases

EWING, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey health officials say one person is being tested for coronavirus, while eight others in the state have tested negative.

Governor Phil Murphy joined health, education, emergency management and transportation officials Monday afternoon in a news conference about coronavirus preparedness.

"The risk to the average American is low. That is a welcome relief, but we are not allowing ourselves to sit back in any way," said Murphy.

State officials are also encouraging people to look into work from home options or alternate child care options in the event that workplaces and schools would become affected.

They say the best prevention methods for coronavirus are the same as flu prevention methods: hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home from work or school when sick.

Murphy said they will continue to communicate with federal agencies, as well as local leaders.

"Tomorrow I will convene a series of calls with stakeholders across our state to update them on our preparedness efforts and to ensure we are all working from the same playbook. One call will be with school superintendents and the leaders of our colleges and universities. The second will be with representatives of our business community and the third will be with local and county officials," said Murphy.



"We are actively working with the NJ hospital association and the hospitals directly to make sure they have sufficient plans in place to prepare for and respond to a surge in ill patients or a supply chain disruption," said Judith Persichilli, Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health.

At Virtua Health, there's a team of people devoted to preparing for the spread of coronavirus. So far, Virtua officials say no one has been tested from their hospitals, but they are preparing for all scenarios.

"We've been planning for the last two months acutely but we've been planning for this for years for various types of outbreaks," said Dr. Martin Topiel, Infection Prevention Officer for Virtua Health.

Dr. Topiel is leading Virtua's coronavirus efforts, making sure all five New Jersey hospitals are ready - from a call center, to quarantine drills, to keeping a meticulous inventory of supplies.

"We very diligently have planned a mask conservation program so as to salvage and save as many masks as possible that are in our hospitals right now."

Topiel says if a case does come through the door, protective masks, gowns and shields would be used up quickly, which is why they're keeping in close touch with local and state agencies.

State officials say people should not buy or wear masks unless they are told to do so by a health professional, to prevent a supply shortage.
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