MONMOUTH COUNTY: From Wuhan to Monmouth County?  When  Fox News  and   CNN are both reporting that a Chinese virus laboratory, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, may be responsible for the novel coronavirus, it's no longer a far-flung theory. It is a distinct possibility. Holmdel, as of April 15, has 139 infections, Middletown has 330 and Colts Neck has 49 (full Monmouth list below). There have been various reports of wet market and bat soup blame... Our state remains on lockdown. People want answers.

What is this lab that is in question in China?

According to Wikipedia, The Institute was founded in 1956 as the Wuhan Microbiology Laboratory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). In 1961, it became the South China Institute of Microbiology, and in 1962 was renamed Wuhan Microbiology Institute. Records show that In 1970, it became the Microbiology Institute of Hubei Province when the Hubei Commission of Science and Technology took over the administration. In June 1978, it was returned to the CAS and renamed Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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Back in New Jersey, the struggle continues to deal with the pandemic and the personal and financial toll it wreaks on area families is obvious. The Governor provides daily updates. You can view the most recent here:

According to CNN, US intelligence and national security officials say the United States government is looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter who caution it is premature to draw any conclusions.

According to Fox News, President Trump remarked at Wednesday's coronavirus press briefing, "More and more we're hearing the story...we are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation." Documents detail early efforts by doctors at the lab and early efforts at containment. The Wuhan wet market initially identified as a possible point of origin never sold bats, and the sources tell Fox News that blaming the wet market was an effort by China to deflect blame from the laboratory, along with the country's propaganda efforts targeting the U.S. and Italy.

U.S. Embassy officials warned in January 2018 about inadequate safety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab and passed on information about scientists conducting risky research on coronavirus from bats, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

2019–20 coronavirus pandemic

In December 2019, cases of pneumonia associated with an unknown coronavirus were reported to health authorities in Wuhan. The Institute checked its coronavirus collection and found the new virus was 96 percent identical to a sample its researchers had taken from horseshoe bats in southwest China.

As the virus spread worldwide, the Institute continued its investigation. In February 2020, the New York Times reported that a team led by Shi Zhengli at the Institute were the first to identify, analyze and name the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and upload it to public databases for scientists around the world to understand, and publishing papers in Nature. In February 2020, the Institute applied for a patent in China for the use of remdesivir, an experimental drug owned by Gilead Sciences, which the Institute found inhibited the virus in vitro; in a move which also raised concerns regarding international intellectual property rights. In a statement, the Institute said it would not exercise its new Chinese patent rights "if relevant foreign companies intend to contribute to the prevention and control of China’s epidemic".

The Institute was rumored as a source for the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic as a result of allegations of bioweapon research, a concept that some US experts have rejected, noting that the Institute was not suitable for bioweapon research, that most countries had abandoned bioweapons as fruitless, and that there was no evidence that the virus was genetically engineered.

In February 2020, virus expert and global lead coronavirus investigator Trevor Bedford observed that "The evidence we have is that the mutations [in the virus] are completely consistent with natural evolution".On the other hand, even before the outbreak of the pandemic, some virologists questioned whether previous experiments on creating novel coronaviruses in the lab justified the potential risk of accidental release.

During January and February 2020, the Institute was subject to further conspiracy theories, and concerns that it was the source of the outbreak through accidental leakage, which it publicly refuted. Members of the Institute's research teams were also the subject of various conspiracy theories, including Shi, who made various public statements defending the Institute. While Ebright refuted several of conspiracy theories regarding the WIV, he told BBC China that this did not represent the possibility of the virus being "completely ruled out" from entering the population due to a laboratory accident. (Source: Wikipedia)

According to an April 2020 opinion piece by Josh Rogin in the Washington Post, U.S. officials sent to the WIV in 2018 had dispatched two diplomatic cables back to Washington which "warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab" and "also warns that the lab's work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic."

In Monmouth County, the breakdown of positive cases by municipality is as follows:

  • Aberdeen: 115
  • Allenhurst: 2
  • Allentown: 3
  • Asbury Park: 79
  • Atlantic Highlands: 14
  • Avon-by-the-Sea: 9
  • Belmar: 8
  • Bradley Beach: 17
  • Brielle: 20
  • Colts Neck: 49
  • Deal: 22
  • Eatontown: 124
  • Englishtown: 15
  • Fair Haven: 17
  • Farmingdale: 9
  • Freehold Borough: 127
  • Freehold Township: 344
  • Hazlet: 159
  • Highlands: 18
  • Holmdel: 139
  • Howell: 366
  • Interlaken: 1
  • Keansburg: 64
  • Keyport: 50
  • Lake Como: 12
  • Little Silver: 25
  • Loch Arbour: 1
  • Long Branch: 229
  • Manalapan: 312
  • Manasquan: 22
  • Marlboro: 294
  • Matawan: 106
  • Middletown: 330
  • Millstone: 47
  • Monmouth Beach: 14
  • Neptune City: 22
  • Neptune Township: 213
  • Ocean: 170
  • Oceanport: 39
  • Red Bank: 83
  • Roosevelt: 2
  • Rumson: 24
  • Sea Bright: 7
  • Sea Girt: 9
  • Shrewsbury Borough: 24
  • Shrewsbury Township: 6
  • Spring Lake: 6
  • Spring Lake Heights: 15
  • Tinton Falls: 76
  • Union Beach: 28
  • Upper Freehold: 26
  • Wall: 141
  • West Long Branch: 46
  • Unknown: 22

As the curves bend, the numbers plateau and the march toward normalcy begins, the fingers may be pointing directly at China. More specifically, the Wuhan Province and virus lab where the disease is now suspected of coming undone.

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