Gov Announces First Presumptive Case of Coronavirus COVID-19 in NJ
Gov Phil Murphy announced the first presumptive case of coronavirus COVID-19 on March 4. The individual, a male in his 30s, is hospitalized in Bergen County and has been hospitalized since March 3.
On the same day, Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Y. Robinson released a separate update on the coronavirus, assuring residents their safety is a top priority for the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Somerset County Department of Health (SCDOH).
“Our health department has the vast experience and skillsets required to monitor and identify all communicable diseases in the community – that’s what they do on a daily basis to keep Somerset County residents safe,” said Freeholder Director Robinson. “So, we don’t have to get ready to monitor the coronavirus – we stay ready!
“I have called upon the Somerset County Emergency Management Council to expand participation as needed with individuals who have required areas of expertise. The council is comprised of all aspects of county government and partner agencies, including Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital –Somerset, the United Way of Northern New Jersey, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Corporate partners.”
The SCDOH is the lead agency in Somerset County responsible for coordinating public health disease response in emergencies, working in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local hospitals, medical providers, emergency medical services and other local health partners.
“Somerset County is carefully monitoring the situation. Our Department of Health is enhancing our disease surveillance and proactively working with local healthcare providers to plan for any contingency,” said Freeholder Brian G. Gallagher, public health & safety liaison. “We will continue to update the public as information becomes available. In the interim, please visit the Department of Health’s website at co.somerset.nj.us/health to obtain accurate information about the coronavirus. Residents who have questions may email email@example.com or call 908-231-7155.”
At this time, there are no reports of coronavirus in Somerset County. However, to prepare and help reduce any impact this virus may have on our communities, the SCDOH is collaborating with its partner agencies to prepare the public health workforce to respond to any local cases that may occur, and for the possibility that this outbreak could become a pandemic.
The county Department of Health is actively keeping health officials, emergency response teams, and the public informed.
The SCDOH continues to provide the best available scientific information, management practices, and federal and state guidance related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including links to essential resources, to officials, citizens, employees, and partner organizations. Municipalities are asked to share this with their communities and provide updates from the SCDOH on their websites.
Watching for and identifying disease in our communities
In response to the expanding global outbreak of COVID-19, the county’s public health response is aggressive and specific. The SCDOH is using surveillance systems to track the movement of the virus and identify any case of COVID-19 that may arise in Somerset County. The SCDOH is ready to implement public health interventions to reduce the potential spread and impact.
The SCDOH plans to use isolation and quarantine measures to decrease the introduction and spread of the virus in our communities.
The CDC and the NJDOH have defined criteria for individuals with specific travel histories and have advised public health agencies of people in our communities who meet these travel criteria. These individuals will be contacted by the Department of Health’s professional staff to assess the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The SCDOH will implement quarantine measures when individuals fit certain risk categories.
Planning for non-pharmaceutical interventions
The SCDOH has established guidelines to detect and investigate potential cases of COVID-19 in our communities. The county is simultaneously considering other protective measures, including non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI), that are appropriate for the current incidence of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Non-pharmaceutical interventions are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can follow to help slow the spread of illnesses. These actions can include maintaining or increasing the distance between people, promoting common-sense health habits, and encouraging the proper cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces. These measures are an important way to fight the spread of an outbreak and reduce its impact on communities as a whole.
Somerset County is also reviewing pandemic preparedness protocols and response plans in the event the COVID-19 reaches the level of a pandemic.
Coordination with health officials and emergency response teams
The county Department of Health and the Office of Emergency Management are meeting with key partners to discuss how best to coordinate, support and enhance countywide and municipal preparedness and response efforts.
Public health officials are also working with local emergency management partners to support the implementation of public health response at the municipal level.
The SCDOH is coordinating conference calls and in-person meetings with public health partners to provide situational awareness, share relevant information, address concerns and modify our response to the event based on the evolving situation.
For more information, contact the Somerset County Department of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org 908-231-7155.