BLACKWOOD, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy abruptly left a press briefing on Wednesday after learning that an individual with whom he was in close proximity with on Saturday has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Murphy, 63, was about 20 minutes into an outdoor press briefing at the student center of Camden County College (CCC) to announce $14 million in funding for workforce development when a staff member informed him of the news.

The governor tested negative for the novel coronavirus on Monday after being tested for reasons unrelated to his recent exposure. He noted, however, that his negative test result from Monday does not necessarily mean he does not have the virus, and he quickly exited the field. 

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Prior to the start of the press briefing, Murphy stood near Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young, Congressman Donald Norcross, Department of Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo and others, who all wore face masks and stood a safe distance from each other during the event. 

The governor elbowed rather shaking hands with Norcross and other speakers prior to learning of his exposure. 

A few hours later, Murphy's communications director, Mahen Gunaratna, issued a statement clarifying the governor's exposure and his plan to quarantine. The statement reiterated that Murphy received a coronavirus test on Monday as part of his regularly scheduled testing regime, which came back negative.

According to Gunaratna, Murphy and New Jersey's First Lady were rapidly tested once again on Wednesday and both received negative results. 

“A member of the governor's senior staff recently tested positive for COVID-19," said Gunaratna. "Per guidance from public health officials, the individual is currently quarantining at home. We have begun the contact tracing process to notify everyone who may have come into contact with our colleague during the potential infection window.

"Out of an abundance of caution and in line with the highest levels of commitment to protecting public health, the governor and first lady will be canceling their in-person events and voluntarily quarantining through the end of the weekend, and each will take an additional COVID-19 test before they resume any in-person engagements." 

Gunaratna concluded that the New Jersey Governor's Office "has taken every precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19" since the start of the pandemic and that Wednesday's "exceedingly cautious steps" were taken in line with that ongoing commitment.

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