NEWARK, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced today that he has tested positive for coronavirus, the latest in a string of public officials who have fallen prey to the pandemic.

“Today I learned that I tested positive for the Coronavirus. I decided to get tested after experiencing a fever for several days and have been self-quarantined since March 21st. So far, my symptoms have been mild, and I have been feeling alright," said DiVincenzo in a statement.

"By working remotely, I have not allowed this virus to prevent me from serving our communities and the residents of Essex County," the county executive said. "I implore everyone to practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, limit your movements in public and stay home. We are in the midst of a public health crisis. The prudent actions we take now will determine how severe the impacts of the Coronavirus will be later.”

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DiVincenzo, a Newark native who grew up in the city's North Ward and is a graduate of Newark's Barringer High School, was first elected county executive in 2002. Under his watch, Essex County's infrastructure has seen major improvements, such as the revitalization of the county park system, including a major replanting of the famed cherry blossom trees in Branch Brook Park in Newark and Belleville, and the renovation of Independence Park and  Weequahic Park in Newark's East and South Wards respectively. 

DiVincenzo announced in August 2019 that the county would lend the City of Newark $120 million via a 30-year bond for the lead-line replacement program meant to address the lead water crisis affecting New Jersey's largest city. 

The county-backed bond, meant to be used exclusively for the lead service line replacement program started by the city in March 2019, eliminated the need for Newark homeowners to have to pay $1,000 out-of-pocket for lead service replacement lines. As a result of the bond initiative, it is now estimated that the program to replace all of Newark's 18,000 antiquated lead lines will be completed in 24 to 30 months, far less that the initial estimation of approximately eight to 10 years. 

DiVincenzo is the second prominent Essex County public offcial to announce they've tested positive for the COVID-19 virus this week. Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, who has served for almost three decades at the county's top law enforcement officer, tested positive on Sunday. 

DiVincenzo is now one of 1,900 confirmed coronavirus cases in Essex County as of Tuesday, a number second only to Bergen County, which has just over 2,900 confirmed cases, according to state health authorities. There are 18,696 confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey as of Tuesday, with at least 267 reported deaths.