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Murphy announces coronavirus task force

<p>Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) formed the task force to ensure the state is protected against the virus.</p>

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) formed the task force to ensure the state is protected against the virus.

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced the creation of a task force to prepare New Jersey for the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a press release.

“By establishing the Coronavirus Task Force, we are bringing together experts across state agencies, health officials and federal partners to ensure that we are working collaboratively to protect the health and safety of all New Jerseyans," Murphy said, according to the release.

There have not been any cases of coronavirus reported in New Jersey, but Murphy said it is important to have protocols in place and coordinate state efforts to respond to the virus, according to the release.

The task force will be led by Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health Judith M. Persichilli and will include officials from New Jersey’s human services, public safety, education, homeland security and law enforcement departments. State officials will also coordinate with hospitals and other healthcare facilities to prepare for potential coronavirus patients. 

“Outbreaks like this — when a new virus is emerging to infect people — are always concerning,” Persichilli said in the release. “The situation poses a serious public health threat, but the risk to New Jersey residents remains low and our level of preparedness is high.”

Persichilli said New Jerseyans can reduce the spread of illnesses, including the coronavirus, by washing their hands and staying home when they are sick. 

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement coronavirus screenings at the Newark Liberty International Airport, according to The Daily Targum.

In the release, Murphy said that the screenings have officially begun and said the state will continuously communicate with federal officials and the airport to disseminate proper information. 

The state government is working with the CDC and other agencies to monitor the outbreak and provide updates, the release stated. Murphy has launched a webpage for the public to stay informed about the illness and other related regulations, such as travel restrictions. 

Rutgers has issued a ban on all University-related travel to China, where the virus originated and is most widespread, according to the Targum. The Rutgers New Jersey Poison Information and Education System will also serve as the state’s coronavirus hotline. 

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