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CAMDEN, NJ — On Saturday, state health authorities confirmed that the patient who tested as the first "presumptive positive" case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Camden County is a Cherry Hill man.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver announced in a call with reporters Sunday that New Jersey now has six total cases with 27 additional cases under investigation. A 70-year-old man from Teaneck, and a 32-year-old man from West New York were the latest presumed positive cases.
County officials were informed of the case in Camden from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) while on a county-wide phone conference with district schools, Health Officer Paschal Nwako said during a press conference Friday at the Camden County Department of Health in Blackwood, NJ.
The man, 61, presented symptoms as early as Feb. 26, according to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
Although the manner in which the man was exposed has not been determined, Persichilli said he was known to have contact with five friends and co-workers, as well as seven people in his home. Hospital workers, who may have been in contact with the man, are also being assessed.
In a statement Sunday evening, the county said, "At this time, we know that the patient did not attend any large gatherings or use mass transit, limiting his exposure risk."
Persichilli said the state is currently investigating 27 individuals in the following counties: nine from Bergen, one from Camden, two from Cumberland, three from Essex, two from Middlesex and two from Hunterdon, four from Monmouth, one from Sussex and three from Union.
Nwako reiterated Friday that the likelihood of a general outbreak remains slim.
The Cherry Hill man has been in stable condition at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital since March 3.
Tests, which can take as many as 48 hours to process, are currently on their way to the CDC in Atlanta for further confirmation.
When asked Sunday about additional details on the Cherry Hill man, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan, said, "I do not have any updates at this time, but as mentioned yesterday, it’s in the process of identifying those households and healthcare worker contacts."
Of the other presumed two positive cases, there is a 32-year-old man from Fort Lee, an Englewood woman in her 30s, and a 55-year-old man from Englewood.
"We understand the community is anxious but the risk of the general public contacting coronavirus is low in Camden County," said Nwako.
We are recommending people, "wash your hands and if you get sick, to see your primary care physician, [as well as] practice social distancing," he added.
Officials assured that the county has been taking steps to prepare for the possibility of a case in the area.
Although Camden Superintendent Katrina McCombs released a letter informing parents of steps being taken, the New Jersey Department of Education released school closure guidelines on Thursday.
The district said on its website that it is monitoring the situation.
Nwako said the health department is not advising for closing schools at this time.
"We are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)," Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital said in a statement. "Due to federal privacy laws, we cannot comment on the patient specifically, beyond saying this adult patient is hospitalized in isolation..."
The county's health department is coordinating with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), Murphy's office, and other state, local, and federal partners to ensure a comprehensive and appropriate response to the ongoing public health threat presented by coronavirus.
“Given recent developments in surrounding areas, this does not come as a surprise to our personnel, and we have already put plans in place so that our response can begin immediately,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services.