NJ health officials say state has 1st positive COVID-19 test

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A man in his 30s who’s hospitalized in Bergen County has New Jersey’s first positive test for COVID-19, Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement Wednesday.

State health officials have sent the results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the case, Murphy said.

“We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for this for weeks,” Murphy said in the statement. “I urge residents to remain calm and use resources from the New Jersey Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control to prepare and prevent the spread of infection.”

Local and state health officials are tracing the man’s contacts and “taking appropriate public health actions,” Murphy said.

The patient has been hospitalized since March 3. He was tested by the state Department of Health at the New Jersey Public Health Environmental Laboratories.

The development came the same day that federal health officials said they were providing the state with $1.75 million in what they called initial funding to respond to the virus in New Jersey. The U.S. House also passed an $8.3 billion bipartisan bill to combat the virus earlier Wednesday.

Murphy said Tuesday that the state was preparing for the likelihood that the state would see a case at some point. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state has 700 rooms capable of isolating patients in hospitals across the state, if needed.

Murphy last month set up a task force to prepare for handling the virus, and Persichilli said a crisis management team has been meeting daily.

Also in the New York City region, a man from the city’s suburbs was hospitalized in serious condition Tuesday, a case that prompted school closings and quarantines for congregants of a synagogue. New York officials say the state now has 11 cases of the virus.

The U.S. has more than 120 cases in at least 15 states, with 11 deaths, all but one of them in Washington state.

China accounted for the overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 94,000 infections and 3,200 deaths since the virus first surfaced there in late December.