U.S. Senator Robert Menendez today appeared with state officials to announce several updates on what is becoming an all-out effort to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to New Jersey. So far, no confirmed cases have been found in the state, and no one is under investigation for infection.
The coronavirus outbreak is about a month-and-a-half old, and so far, the risk to New Jersey and the United States is low. Nevertheless, those returning to the U.S. from afflicted areas face a 14-day quarantine as part of the prevention effort.
Among the developments New Jersey’s senior Senator announced:
- The Center for Disease Control has delivered coronavirus testing kits to testing labs in the state.
- Several Senators have called on the Trump administration to restore funding a pandemic preparedness and response efforts. Funding to the program has been decreased in recent budgets.
- Menendez has called on the U.S. State Department to urge China to be more forthcoming with information.
- Newark Liberty International Airport was designated for additional screening for travelers coming from China. That brings the total to 11 U.S. airports receiving such designation.
While these developments will help, Mendendez acknowledged that the best hope for keeping New Jersey out of the outbreak rested with individuals and families.
“We all have a responsibility to exercise some good, old-fashioned common sense,” Menendez said. “Every family should take proper precautions in protecting themselves and their children” by frequently washing their hands and covering their mouths when they cough.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said she and her staff have been meeting daily to review potential cases and map out how best to respond. The department has put together a comprehensive response page and launched a hotline for people with virus-related questions. The number is 1-800-222-1222 , and the hotline has already fielded over 400 calls from the public, she said.
So far, the United States has 12 confirmed cases of corona virus, with people infected in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin, Persichilli said.
“We understand that there is a lot of concern about the virus, but risk to New Jersey residents remains low,” Persichilli said.
View the press conference here.