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LIVE UPDATES: Atlantic County records 24 news COVID-19 cases, 1 additional death

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Virus Outbreak-Connecticut

Atlantic County officials on Friday announced an additional 24 positive cases of COVID-19, as well as another death.

A 42-year-old Atlantic City man with underlying health conditions has become the seventh county resident to die from the new coronavirus, according to a news release from county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore

There are also 24 new cases, bringing the county’s total to 222 cases, according to the news release.

Of the new cases, 14 are men, ages 13 to 63, and 10 are women, ages 31 to 91, according to the release. They include four each from Egg Harbor Township, Galloway and Hamilton Twp.; three from Atlantic City; two each from Hammonton and Weymouth Township; and one each from Buena, Buena Vista Township, Folsom, Mullica and Pleasantville.

Atlantic County will provide drive-thru testing for symptomatic county residents with a doctor’s prescription on Tuesday and Thursday behind the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., by appointment.

Appointments can be made on the county website: https://www.atlantic-county.org/covid.

So far, Atlantic County has reported a total of 222 cases, seven deaths and 26 recovered. Cape May County has reported 116 cases, with 15 designated as off quarantine and four deaths. Cumberland County has reported 134 cases and three deaths.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday that he was signing an executive order allowing some state prison inmates to be released to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Certain low-risk individuals whose age or health status puts them at risk, who have been denied parole within the last year or whose sentences are to expire within the next three months can be placed on temporary home confinement or granted parole through an expedited process, he said during his daily briefing with other state officials.

“I want to stress that no one convicted of a serious crime, such as murder, sexual assault, among others will be eligible for consideration,” he said.

In South Jersey, there are three DOC facilities, all in Cumberland County — South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont and Bayside State Prison in Leesburg.

As of Friday morning, one inmate has tested positive at South Woods State Prison, one inmate and five staff members have tested positive at Southern State Correctional Facility, and there have been no confirmed cases at Bayside State Prison, according to the DOC website.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks said that they are not yet sure how many inmates will be impacted by the order, but said they are considering those age 60 and over, those with high-risk medical conditions based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Health guidance, those presenting high risk for severe illness or death, those maxing out in three months and those recently considered for parole.

“The health, safety and welfare of our employees and their families and their inmates that are entrusted to us are our top priorities,” Hicks said, adding that he’s been in constant contact with the state Department of Health.

Gov. Murphy also announced the acquisition of 15 point-of-care Abbott ID NOW testing instruments from the federal government to expand access to COVID-19 testing across the state.

The portable testing machines will be able to process specimens in 5-13 minutes, according to the release.

“In order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and manage our health care resources and personal protective equipment supply, we need to implement more aggressive testing techniques,” Gov. Murphy said in the release. “With Abbott’s innovative point-of-care molecular testing platform, we will be able to swiftly process lab specimens and provide individuals with the care and resources they need immediately. I am grateful for our partnership with the federal government and with Abbott Labs for their assistance in expanding testing capacity in New Jersey.”

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey has increased by 3,627, bringing the total to 54,588, officials said Friday. There have been 233 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 1,932.

“We must recognize the tremendous toll this virus is having on our state and seeing these faces and hearing these names reminds us that behind the stark and impersonal numbers are real people, real human beings, real families,” Murphy said after highlighting several residents’ deaths. “And we all have a role to play in reducing the number of people we lose. We have to keep with social distancing; that is the key to cracking the code, flattening the curve and getting us to a better place.”

Currently, there are 7,570 people hospitalized across the state, Murphy said, including 1,679 people in intensive care and 1,663 people on ventilators. However, 682 people have been discharged from hospitals.

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.

Saturday's briefing is scheduled for 1 p.m.; there will be no live briefing on Sunday. 

Stockton University announced Friday that they are providing temporary housing to medical professionals working at area hospitals.

Those working at the Mainland and Atlantic City campuses of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Centers and the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation in Galloway will be provided with housing, according to a news release from the university. The initiative aims to help reduce concern that they might infect their families if they treat patients with COVID-19.

The first group is expected to move in around April 13, and the current agreement runs through June 30, but could be extended, according to the release.

Participating medical personnel will first be housed in student housing on Chris Gaupp Drive, according to the release, which has 44 individual rooms with bathrooms and kitchenettes. If needed, another 128 beds would be made available in one of the apartment-type housing complexes on the main campus.

“Both facilities are located on Stockton’s campus and ARMC City campus is our neighbor in Atlantic City,” university President Harvey Kesselman. “We are honored to be able to provide comfortable, convenient housing that gives these dedicated professionals a safe place to stay and also protects their families at home.”

Bacharach Board of Governors Vice Chair Roy Goldberg and CEO Richard Kathrins said they were grateful to the university.

“The offer to use Stockton space for respite for our frontline clinical staff was well received and demonstrated Stockton’s understanding and appreciation for the work of the healthcare workers,” they said in a statement. 

“As always, Stockton leadership is engaged in helping solve community challenges,” AtlantiCare President and CEO Lori Herndon said. “Though our providers and staff are taking appropriate measures to protect themselves from workplace exposures, some would feel more comfortable distancing themselves from their families at this time. We are grateful for our partnership and that Stockton is supporting our dedicated caregivers and their families.”

Ventnor officials said Friday that, going forward, they will not be issuing warnings to people on the beaches and Boardwalk in violation of the city’s mandate.

Those who are found in those spaces will be issued a summons and will face fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail, according to a post on the city’s Facebook page. They also noted that changes to emergency medical procedures include screening patients from a six-foot distance, as well as Gov. Phil Murphy’s order to bar all non-essential construction.

“All off these measures are unfortunate but necessary steps to protect each other, flatten the curve of infection, and reduce the stress on our resources to fight back,” according to the post.

There are currently eight confirmed cases in the city, but officials said they believe the number of cases is higher based on EMS calls.

Margate police said Thursday that their beaches will be restricted to foot traffic only.

“Walking and running will be allowed as long as social distancing guidelines are followed,” according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

Brigantine officials on Thursday closed Cove Beach, the sea wall and the North Beach Observation Towner.

“The remaining beaches are open for public use, following recommended social distancing guidelines,” according to an order from the mayor’s office.

Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci announced the reopening of several park facilities Friday, the Daily Journal reported.

The city had previously closed all parks indefinitely, following Gov. Phil Murphy’s mandate this week that closed state and county parks.

Spaces opening back up include the walking track at Romano Park, the fishing and the walking trail at Anthony Campanella Park in South Vineland, the dog park on Laurel Road and the Landis Park walking trail, according to the news outlet.

Wakefern Food Group, which owns ShopRite, announced Friday that it will begin implementing new safety procedures next week.

Non-contact forehead infrared thermometers will be used to take the temperature of all associates and vendors when they arrive at stores. Anyone with a temperature will be sent home. Wakefern plans to monitor both its stores and its warehouses.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs alerted New Jersey residents Friday to be aware of consumer fraud caused by uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19.

“New Jersey residents need the financial relief that’s coming to them,” Attorney General Grewal said. “We want you to be able to spot a scam, so that the check you’re expecting from the government doesn’t turn into a blank check from you to a thief.”

There is a new scheme that uses confusion regarding government financial assistance related to COVID-19 to induce victims into sharing their personal information.

For seniors and tax payers that filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, stimulus payments will be automatic. Scam artists are using emails and text messages under the pretense of registering individuals for payments, in order to steal their information or induce them to click on links that can plant malware on their computer.

Some of the scams use official looking emails from the U.S. Small Business Association among others with fake links to grant applications.

The Division listed the following scams residents should be on the lookout for:

  • Stimulus/Government Assistance Scams: As stimulus funds will soon be sent by check or direct deposit, keep in mind that the government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. Anyone who calls and asks for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card to receive government assistance is a scammer. To receive grants or SBA loans you must apply and qualify.
  • Fake Mandatory COVID-19 Test Scams: Individuals posing as employees of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or another U.S. government department may send a text message or email instructing recipients to click on a link for the purpose of completing a mandatory online test or registration to get testing. This scam is designed to steal personal, financial and/or medical information.
  • Grandparent/Family Scams: These scams can take a new twist and take on a new sense of urgency during the current health crisis. If someone calls or sends a message from an unknown number or email address claiming to be a relative or friend sick with COVID-19 and desperate for money, don’t panic! Reach out to your friend or relative directly, and keep in mind that scam artists typically ask for payment via wire transfer or a gift card.
  • Phony Charities & Crowdfunding: New Jerseyans are known for coming together in a time of need and extreme hardship. However, when disasters and life changing events such as the current pandemic occur, residents must be cautious. Be sure to research where a charitable donation is going and visit our website for more information about registration requirements and status. Be careful and do your homework when it comes to appeals on crowdfunding sites, including reading the terms and conditions, as well as the comments. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by money wire, don’t do it.
  • Travel Insurance Scams: Many travel insurance policies do not cover pandemics, although some legitimate travel insurance companies have extended coverage to their policyholders for cancellations related to COVID-19. If someone pitches you new travel insurance that specifically covers COVID-19-related problems, it may be a scam. For more information about your rights to a refund visit our COVID-19 consumer guidance.

Attorney General Grewal and U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced the creation of a Federal-State COVID-19 Fraud Task Force on March 30, 2020. It will investigate fraud perpetrated by exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who believes they've been the victim of such a fraud should contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at (866) 720-5721.

Here’s where to get tested for COVID-19 in South Jersey

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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