It was recently announced that deaths from the novel coronavirus have now topped 900 deaths, surpassing the death total of the SARS virus outbreak in 2002. And while the world is gripped by news of the deadly coronavirus’ spread, health officials are telling Americans that it is mostly confined to China and instead focus on the real threat we face each day – influenza.
At a Monday news conference, New Jersey Health Commissioner and coronavirus taskforce director Judy Persichilli told residents to concern themselves more with the high levels of influenza in the state, rather than the coronavirus, of which there are zero confirmed or suspected cases in New Jersey. “There is currently high flu activity statewide and there have been more than 5,000 cases of flu and two flu-related child deaths,” Persichilli said.
But even with flu being far more of a pressing concern to New Jerseyans, Persichilli said that precautions are being taken to ensure that the coronavirus does not affect New Jersey. She noted that all incoming travelers to New Jersey by plane and boat are being screened by health officials to make sure they are not exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. “Federal officials are asking travelers about their health and their travel and these travelers are screened for fever, cough, or trouble breathing,” said Persichilli.
Four passengers aboard a cruise ship that docked in Bayonne, New Jersey last week were suspected of being ill with the cornovirus, but their test results came back negative.
Senator Bob Menendez on Monday urged for officials to continue combating the spread of coronavirus at the federal, state, and local levels. “The fact there has been no significant spread of the coronavirus throughout New Jersey or the nation does not mean we should ignore this growing global health care challenge,” Menendez said. “It’s imperative that our state gets the resources, guidance and support it needs to keep New Jerseyans safe.”
State officials had recently declared influenza “widespread” throughout much of New Jersey, and multiple hospitals enacted rules that forbid children from visiting in order to keep the flu from spreading yet further.