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Live Updates: Malls, amusement parks to close in NJ, governor says

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New Jersey's indoor malls and amusement centers closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday as part of the state's efforts to address COVID-19, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Murphy spoke Tuesday during his now daily news conference. He also reported that a third person died from the virus, and the state's number of positive cases climbed 50% to 267.

The new closings are the latest in the state's far-reaching mitigation measures aimed at blunting any spike in the outbreak.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Health

On Tuesday, Murphy barred groups of more than 50 people from gathering. He also ordered the shutdown of some of the state's entertainment and recreational sector, including gyms, theaters and casinos, and the curtailing of dining across the state.

Also, a 5-year-old Paterson child has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the youngest case of the novel coronavirus so far identified in the state.

The child, as well as his/her parents, tested positive, NJ.com reported. 

Murphy announced Tuesday that 89 more people have tested presumed positive bringing the total to 267 cases of the novel coronavirus identified across the state and there have been three deaths. There haven’t been any documented patients with the disease in Atlantic, Cumberland or Cape May counties. There is one new case in Ocean County, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Tuesday.

Murphy, in a livestreamed press conference, urged people to stay home and observe the unofficial 8 p.m. curfew to let essential infrastructure employees do their jobs. Play a game, binge watch a show, call your neighbor to check up on them, he said. Social distancing will help the state "flatten the curve," or avoid a spike in cases that could overwhelm hospitals, he said. 

Murphy ordered shopping malls and indoor amusement parks to shut down by 8 p.m. Tuesday. On Monday, the governor ordered restaurants to stop serving restaurants in-store at 8 p.m., and ordered bars, casinos and gyms to shut down for the time being.

"In many respects, this is day one of life in New Jersey under the measures we put in place yesterday to ensure social distancing and help flatten the curve," Murphy said. 

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.

Workers whose jobs have have been affected by closures should visit nj.gov/labor to see what available benefits they qualify for, Murphy said. 

Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus announced Tuesday that it will be offering drive-thru testing by appointment at 55 Meadowlands Parkway. 

According to a news release from the hospital:

  1. If you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath please call 201-388-1097 to begin our screening process.
  2. A healthcare professional will discuss your symptoms, and, if appropriate, take your information and set an appointment time for a screening.
  3. Your drive-thru screening will take place in the hospital, and if needed, additional tests will be performed in a specially designated area.
  4. Test results will be provided once available within 3-5 days.

Catholic Church officials in the Camden Diocese on Tuesday suspended all Masses and restricted the number of people at baptisms, weddings, funerals and other sacraments.

“I have asked our pastors to find ways of communicating with parishioners on a regular basis during this time of crisis and separation from our communal spiritual lives,” Bishop Dennis Sullivan said in a news release. “Providing prayer lines; social media gatherings; regular information and such can help people, many of whom may feel isolated.”

For more information, visit camdendiocese.org.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that he's bringing in the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complete drive-thru testing in the state.

During an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Murphy said officials are trying to do "everything we can to break the back and flatten that curve so we can take pressure off the health case system, and God willing, save lives."

Murphy did not detail where drive-thru testing would occur, but said officials have already called in the National Guard to help with hospital infrastructure, adding that the Army Core of Engineers would be "potentially" called in as well.

Murphy will appear on several television shows Tuesday to talk about the state’s response to COVID-19, as well as update the media during a briefing.

Here’s where to watch Murphy:

  • 7 a.m. live on the "Today" show
  • 8:10 a.m. call-in live to "Good Day New York"
  • 8:30 a.m. call-in live to "PIX 11 Morning News"
  • 2 p.m. briefing with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan, Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Chris Neuwirth, State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan, and Department of Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. It will be livestreamed here.
  • 4:30 p.m. live on "Closing Bell"

On Monday, Murphy ordered the closure of all the casinos in Atlantic City effective 8 p.m., as well as banning gatherings of 50 people or more across the state, leading to the closure of movie theaters, gyms and dine-in service at restaurants and bars. He also strongly discouraged travel from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Health

Officials at the office of Bergen County Executive James Tedesco said Tuesday that they are postponing shutting down county malls and non-essential businesses until Saturday, NorthJersey.com reported.

The state Department of Labor announced that in-person unemployment insurance services are temporarily suspended at all One-Stop Career Center offices. They anticipate to re-open March 30.

Customers needing to file for unemployment insurance are urged to apply online at MyUnemployment.nj.gov. If you are unable to access the internet, please call:   

  • North Jersey:  201-601-4100
  • Central Jersey:  732-761-2020
  • Southern Jersey:  856-507-2340

Dollar General on Monday announced that the company is encouraging the first hour of operations each day for senior shoppers, one of the groups most vulnerable to the disease.

In addition, all stores plan on closing an hour earlier for employees to clean and restock shelves, according to a news release from the retailer.

“We appreciate our customers’ understanding of our decision and request they visit our stores later in the morning to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices,” said company CEO Todd Vasos. “During these unprecedented times, Dollar General is diligently working to meet the ongoing needs of our customers and communities.

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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