UPDATE: The death of a 69-year-old Little Ferry man from coronavirus on Tuesday -- the first fatality of its kind in New Jersey -- prompted Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco to declare a state of emergency in the county.
John Brennan, who had diabetes and other complications, hadn’t recently traveled out of the country but had gone back and forth to and from New York, where the greatest number of cases in the U.S. (125) have been reported, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
Brennon was a horseman’s field representative for the Standardbred Owners Association (SOA) of New York, its president, Joseph Faraldo, said Tuesday. He worked at Yonkers Raceway, which cancelled racing Tuesday night from concerns that others may have contracted the virus, officials said.
Among other measures, the state of emergency declaration by Tedesco closes all of the county technical schools and training centers and bans all county business-related international travel or domestic travel to any states that have reported COVID-19 cases.
Tedesco also suspended all visitation to the Bergen County Health Care Center in Rockleigh until further notice. "The facility is hereby directed to review alternative technological means to provide visitation to residents," the county executive said. "Similar measures are strongly recommended at the many long term care and senior focused facilities throughout the county." (Other requirements of the declaration are listed below.)
As of 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, New Jersey had 15 presumptive positive coronavirus cases, the state Health Department reported.
The Bergen man later identified as Brennan was admitted to Hackensack University Medical Center last Thursday and died Tuesday morning, Persichilli said.
The Hackensack Meridan Health network also announced the death in an alert to company staff.
Hackensack University Medical Center still had one presumptive positive COVID-19 patient, a 32-year-old Fort Lee man, after saying it released another patient into isolation at home.
A 55-year-old Englewood man remained at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, which previously released a 30-year-old Englewood woman.
In cases reported Monday, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel had an 83-year-old Hazlet woman, while a 27-year-old Little Silver man who had been at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank was discharged.
There have now been 27 reported deaths in the US from COVID-19. The others were in California, Florida and Washington State.
The virus has sickened more than 115,000 people globally and killed more than 4,000, authorities said.
Under Tedesco's indefinite state of emergency in Bergen County:
- All necessary county agencies are authorized to take appropriate action to assist municipal governments in containing, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the outbreak;
- All county departments and agencies immediately shall implement any and all infectious disease guidelines and protocols and use all personal protective equipment;
- All county departments and agencies shall provide all necessary assistance to federal, state and local authorities to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of Bergen County and shall prioritize the most vulnerable county residents served and develop the appropriate contingency plans to avoid any disruption of services, with a special focus on senior centers and Meals-on-Wheels recipients;
- All county employees shall follow all local, county, state and federal health recommendations, in addition to Centers for Disease Control recommendations including but not limited to handwashing, sanitizing and basic infection control procedures.
Bergen County senior citizens, particularly those with underlying health conditions, "are strongly encouraged to avoid large crowds and large gatherings while COVID- 19 remains a threat," Tedesco added.Contract bidding for necessary goods and services that is ordinarily required by state law is temporarily suspended:
• to award emergency contracts, including but not limited to emergency contracts or leases for relocation and support of County operations for professional services for purchases of commodities, services, and technology;
• to purchase food, supplies, services, and equipment;
• to procure any supplies or equipment required to ensure adequate sanitization, cleaning or sterilization of any facility or location.
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