March 26, 2020

New Jersey Coronavirus Cases Skyrocket

By Donald Gilpin

Anticipated community spread and increased testing have pushed New Jersey’s total of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases to at least 6,876, with 2,492 new positive tests announced today, March 26, by Gov. Phil Murphy in his daily coronavirus press briefing. There have been at least 81 deaths from coronavirus in the state, with 19 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

Mercer County has reported 111 cases, an increase of 29 since Wednesday. The majority of the  cases in the state so far have occurred in counties in the northern half of the state.

In measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, Murphy has ordered all non-essential businesses to close, all schools to close, and people to stay at home except for work and necessary travel. Supermarkets and pharmacies are open. Restaurants are permitted to offer takeout and delivery only. Social gatherings are banned, and officials have announced that those who violate the orders will be prosecuted.

As of Wednesday evening, the Princeton Health Department (PHD) reported 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Princeton, nine males and five females. It is impossible to keep a precise tally, the PHD noted, because of widespread testing throughout the region, but they are continuing to investigate and highlight the most critical exposures and disease events.

In today’s update, Princeton Board of Health Chair Dr. George DiFerdinando discussed social distancing and hygiene safety measures when shopping for groceries. “This outbreak has required unprecedented attention to detail and has left us all scrubbing and sanitizing with the attention of a surgeon prepping for surgery,” he said.

He emphasized the difficulty and importance of maintaining the prescribed six-foot distance from others in a crowded store. “COVID-19 doesn’t call time out because you’re in a crowded store and neither should we,” he said.

DiFerdinando mentioned two local markets, McCaffrey’s and the Whole Earth Center, that have established safeguards for protecting patrons during the COVID-19 crisis.

Among other measures, McCaffrey’s has separated cashiers at every other checkout in order to create more distance and placed signs throughout the store reminding patrons of social distancing and safe hygiene practices.  McCaffrey’s has also extended hours for senior citizen shopping from 6 to 8 a.m. and added staff to accommodate a large increase in online orders.

The Whole Earth Center has limited shoppers to 50 at a time and urged patrons to send only one family member to shop on each visit. The deli counter is taking orders by phone with pickup available at the front patio.

“Telephone and online orders greatly reduce contact, which will go a long way to achieving the social distancing which is key to the safety of all of us,” DiFerdinando said. “How well we protect ourselves in this crisis is crucial to all of us getting through it with our health and our happiness.”

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