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LIVE UPDATES: NJ COVID-19 cases rise to 29,895, deaths total 646

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Virus Outbreak-Connecticut

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 has increased by 4,372, bringing the total number of cases to 29,895 across the state, officials said during Gov. Phil Murphy's daily briefing. There have been 113 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 646.

“I know that there is nothing we can say to truly dull the pain that … every family who has lost a loved one to COVID-19 is feeling right now,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during his daily briefing with other state officials. “But we can make them know we are thinking about them through our actions.”

Murphy noted that the deaths did not all occur since the last briefing, but that the numbers are catching up as cause of death is determined.

So far, Atlantic County has 75 positive cases of the new coronavirus, with one death and 11 recovered. Cumberland County has reported 31 cases and one death, and Cape May County has reported 49 cases with 13 recovered.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Health

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

A testing center will be open in Cumberland County at the Vineland campus of Rowan College, Murphy said. The site is open by appointment and for symptomatic county residents only.

For information, visit completecarenj.com.

Of the new deaths, 59% were men and 40% were women, while 34% had a documented underlying condition, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

Deaths included 19 from Essex County, 16 from Hudson County, 14 from Bergen County, 11 each from Passaic and Union counties, 10 from Monmouth County, eight from Middlesex County, seven from Ocean County, six from Somerset county, three from Morris County and one each from Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem counties, Persichilli said. Officials are still determining county of residence for two of the deaths.

Murphy also announced that he signed an executive order that all flags across the state will be lowered to half-staff indefinitely in honor of those that have died and those who will die during the pandemic.

“This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state and our nation, indeed, and we must have a constant and visible memorial of the tremendous personal toll COVID-19 is having on our communities,” Murphy said. “And since families at this time cannot even hold funerals for their lost loved ones, this is a way – a small way, but I think an important way – we can make sure their loss is not forgotten.”

Atlantic County officials Friday afternoon announced that 23 additional residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

The new cases included 10 men, ages 29 to 69, and 13 women, ages 31 to 81, according to a news release from county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore. It brings the county’s total number of cases to 75.

Six residents have been cleared as recovered, she added, bringing the total recovered in the county to 11.

The Egg Harbor Township of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey is seeing a 60% increase in clients in the wake of the pandemic, officials said.

Although typically allowed to shop inside the foodbank, clients how wait in a line that forms outside and food is brought to them in order to minimize the people who enter the building per social distancing guidelines.

“Many of our neighbors in need are already feeling the economic impact of COVID-19, while others find themselves struggling perhaps for the first time,” said Carlos M. Rodriguez, President and CEO. “In this difficult and unpredictable situation, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey has been working closely with state and national partners to utilize the current resources that are available and to plan for additional services that may be needed to assist those impacted by this crisis in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

The food bank is working to create emergency meal kits with nonperishable proteins, vegetables, pasta, pasta sauce, cereal and snack items, according to the release.

More information can be found at cfbnj.org.

State officials scheduled a 1 p.m. briefing Friday to update residents on the spread of COVID-19.

Appearing for the briefing will be Governor Phil Murphy, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Edward Lifshitz, State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan and New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan.

So far, Atlantic County has 75 positive cases of the new coronavirus, with one death and 11 recovered. Cumberland County has reported 31 cases and one death, and Cape May County has reported 49 cases with 13 recovered.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

During his Thursday briefing, Murphy announced that the number of positive cases of has increased by 3,489, bringing the total number of cases to 25,590 across the state, and there have been 182 additional deaths, bringing the total to 537.

Officials also said that the Field Medical Station planned for the Atlantic City Convention Center would open April 14.

A Lower Township police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, officials from the department said Friday.

The officer, who works in the patrol division, was tested after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, according to a news release from the department, and was directed to self-isolate for a 14-day incubation period.

The officer is currently recovering at home and is doing well, according to the release, and how the officer contracted it is under investigation.

Since they found out about the positive result, the township has:

  • Notified additional township employees who may also have been exposed
  • Completed a deep cleaning of the Public Safety Building and designated police cars
  • Notified the Cape May County Health Department to coordinate additional testing and monitor, as needed

“Although we have taken every precaution available, instituted strict protocols, and modified our day to day operations it was inevitable that an officer(s) would eventually be exposed and that we would possibly encounter positive results for the COVID-19 amongst our officers,” police Chief William Mastriana said. “I’m extremely proud of the courage and efforts of the Lower Township Police Department and its officers who are on the front lines day and night, continuing our primary mission of protecting and serving the citizens of Lower Township.”

The positive result should not deter the public from calling 911 when they need emergency assistance, according to the release, as township police and fire departments continue to take extensive precautions to safeguard residents and emergency personnel.

Cape May County dispatchers re asking additional screening questions about the new coronavirus for all calls for service requesting an in-person contact by first responders, and personal protective equipment has been distributed to public safety personnel and medications to fire and police operations have been made.

Officials on Friday announced increased restrictions for an Ocean County military base.

The Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is enacting the restrictions starting Saturday, according to a news release from the base, and will go on until further notice.

The base will temporarily restrict access except for the following groups:

  • Active duty military and their dependents (all Services)
  • Uniformed Reserve and Guard members who work on the installation
  • All United Communities base housing residents
  • Balfour Beatty Communities housing residents living on Lakehurst proper
  • Essential DoD civilians as directed by their unit commander/director
  • Mission essential contractors (utilizing their contractor ID card) as directed by the 87th Contracting Squadron or their Service Contracting Office
  • Those who have current visitor's passes until their expiration date (new passes will only be issued with unit commander/director or above approval)
  • Mail and deliveries through Commercial Gate

All other individuals with access to the base under normal circumstances will not have access to the base, according to the release.

“Given the CDC has now declared that NJ has ‘widespread community transmission’ of COVID-19, my intent is to reduce the amount of activity on the installation to the maximum extent possible to ensure the safety of our personnel and their families and to maintain mission readiness,” said Col. Bridget Gigliotti, JB MDL installation commander.

Bootcamp for 64 new U.S. Coast Guard recruits will be rescheduled due to the pandemic, officials said Friday.

The recruits, who graduated from the eight-week course at the Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, will be heading to cutters, stations and other units on the front lines of operations, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard. The graduates include 58 active duty and six members of the reserve.

All of the graduates will be provided with travel to their first unit when possible, according to the release, and those not able to travel immediately due to local concerns over the new coronavirus will remain at the training center.

There will be at least a three-week delay, according to the release. Recruits previously scheduled will remain in delayed-entry status and will work with their local recruiters to reschedule their attendance to basic training once the training center resumes intake of new recruits.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, I have directed the temporary rescheduling of receiving new recruits at Training Center Cape May,” said Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer, Force Readiness Command. “The health and safety of our personnel is our priority.”

Officials in Beach Haven, Ocean County, on Friday announced that there will be no more bulk trash pickup in order to protect public works employees during the pandemic.

Bulk items include large pieces of furniture, mattresses, construction material and others, according to a news release from emergency management.

They will only pick up garbage and recycling that fits in borough-approved trash and recycling carts, officials said, adding that residents can continue to put yard waste in those carts.

Metal, electronics and brush will still be collected on scheduled days, according to the release.

All meetings of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Committee are canceled until further notice due to the pandemic, organizers said Friday.

Ventnor City officials announced Thursday that they are closing their Boardwalk and beaches until further notice.

The closure is effective noon Friday, according to a post on the municipality's Facebook page. 

The entire length of the municipal boardwalk from Jackson Avenue to Fredericksburg Avenue and the entire length of the municipal beach, from the border of Atlantic City to the border of Margate, shall be closed, according to the post. This includes any and all ramps, pavilions, steps and walkways leading to and from the beach and boardwalk as well as the entire fishing pier. All 4x4 Vehicle Beach Permits are no longer valid for use on the beach as well.

Those not in compliance with the order could face a summons, with fines up to $1,000 and six months in jail. 

Upper Township officials on Thursday announced that they have closed all beaches and recreation facilities, as well as prohibited online marketplaces from offering and arranging short term rentals.

There are significant concerns that visitors and seasonal residents are traveling to or staying in the township, according to a news release from township officials.

The Middle Township Police Department said Thursday one of its officers has tested positive for COVID-19 and is at home recovering.

Four other officers are also home in self-quarantine after coming into contact with a different individual who tested positive. None of the four officers is exhibiting symptoms.

Since March 23, the department has been under a new patrol schedule that separates officers into independent squads to limit the ripple effect of any potential exposures.

GALLERY: Stockton campus goes quiet amid COVID-19 crisis

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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