First Presumptive Positive Case of COVID-19 in New Jersey

March 5, 2020

The patient is a 32-year-old male who is currently hospitalized in Bergen County.

On March 4th, New Jersey officials announced the first presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New Jersey.

The patient is a 32-year-old male who is currently hospitalized in Bergen County. He was admitted to Hackensack Meridian Medical Center on March 3rd, according to reports.

The New Jersey Department of Health tested a sample from the ill individual at the New Jersey Public Health Environmental Laboratories, which came back positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample is now being submitted to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.

According to NJ health officials, state and local authorities will proceed with a public health investigation as if this was a confirmed case. State health officials are working with the hospital staff to ensure proper infectious disease protocols are followed. A traceback investigation is also underway.

“Any case of novel coronavirus in our state is concerning, however most New Jersey residents are at very low risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Judith Persichilli, RN, BSN, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health. “The Department is working closely with the CDC and local health officials to respond to this case and is monitoring the evolving situation across the nation.”

While this would be the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Contagion®’s home state of New Jersey, there have been 11 laboratory-confirmed cases reported in the neighboring state of New York, as of March 4th.

On the same day, New Jersey officials issued an advisory asking individuals who attended religious events at the Temple Young Israel in New Rachelle, NY, on February 22nd and 23rd to self-quarantine until March 8th. This advisory was based upon guidance issued by the Westchester County Health Department after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed in a person who attended this temple.

Self-quarantine periods are being used as a method to separate and restrict movement of individuals who may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 to see if they become sick. During self-quarantines individuals should not attend work or should or have guests or visitors.

Individuals who experience symptoms should call their health care provider prior to visiting their office.

Contagion® spoke to NJ Department of Health Assistant Commissioner and State Epidemiologist Christian Tan, MD, MPH about COVID-19 and what clinicians should know.

“Right now, we're asking health care providers to be really vigilant in looking for illnesses that might be compatible with COVID-19 illness. We also encourage childcare providers to take good travel histories. We also understand, you know that there might be that risk exposure element with these with these individuals who might have these illnesses. In the United States, the CDC has issued guidance with regard to what clinicians can be looking for.”

“We always strongly encourage clinicians to go on the CDC website, because things are changing so rapidly, just to keep themselves abreast of the most up to date information, such as what the current criteria are that we're looking for,” Tan said.

For the most recent case counts in the COVID-19 outbreak, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.