First presumptive positive case of coronavirus in Bergen County announced

Photo courtesy of PhilMurphy, Flickr

The first “presumptive positive” case of the coronavirus in New Jersey was announced on Wednesday, March 4 according to state officials. The virus was found in a 32-year-old Fort Lee man, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich confirmed Wednesday night. The individual has been hospitalized in Bergen County since March 3.

At the time of publication, coronavirus cases have been reported in over a dozen states. The coronavirus has killed 11 in the United States. California reported its first coronavirus death on Wednesday, while state death toll in Washington rose to 10, according to NBC News. There have been more than 90,000 cases worldwide and more than 3,000 deaths.

Governor Murphy announced the “presumptive positive” case through a press release which he tweeted. Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli have encouraged residents to remain calm.

“My Administration is working aggressively to keep residents safe and contain the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for this for weeks. I urge residents to remain calm and use resources from the New Jersey Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control to prepare and prevent the spread of infection.”

The presumptive positive result came from a sample tested by the New Jersey Department of Health and has been submitted to the CDC for confirmation testing, according to Murphy’s press release.

"Working with the local health department, the [state] Department of Health is tracing close contacts of this individual and is taking appropriate public health actions," the statement said. "The investigation is underway and more information will be released when it becomes available."

The standard procedure for health officials is to trace people whom the patient has been in contact with over the last two weeks to see if they show symptoms, which usually include a fever and a cough or other respiratory symptoms. They would be asked to self-quarantine and could be tested, if warranted. 

According to, state Jersey Public Health Environmental Laboratories have been able to perform tests for coronavirus infection since Friday, and its capacity to test will be boosted on Thursday with the shipment of 500 additional tests from the CDC. reported that as of March 3, 127 New Jersey residents were in “self-quarantine” because of recent travel to countries where the disease is spreading in the community. They do not have symptoms and are considered to be at low risk, the health department said.   

“Any case of the novel coronavirus in our state is concerning, however most New Jersey residents are at very low risk of contracting COVID-19,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.