Covid NJ: Top Health Official To Self-Isolate; Newark Businesses Cited


New Jersey Department of Health (DOH)
commissioner Judy Persichilli and other staff members will self-quarantine and voluntarily work from home through Dec. 8 “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a statement issued by the department. Persichilli will not be partaking in in-person press conferences or public appearances during the self-isolation period.

The employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was last in the department’s Trenton office this past Tuesday and has since been self-quarantining at home. The state health department’s office has since been closed for cleaning.

“We have begun the contact tracing process to notify everyone who may have come into contact with our colleague during the potential infection window, and will offer testing to close contacts,” DOH communications director Donna Leusner said.

In late October, state governor Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy were forced to self-quarantine after coming into contact with a pair of staff members who tested positive for the virus, while Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was forced to self-isolate earlier this month after being exposed to a staff member who had contracted the coronavirus. A rapid COVID-19 test initially returned a positive result, but Grewal tested negative after receiving a PCR test.

Eight Newark businesses were ticketed in the last two days for violating Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 orders to decrease their indoor and outdoor gathering limits, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.

“Because the number of residents who have tested COVID-19 positive has been on the rise in our City, it’s important that we take every precaution to protect our neighbors and visitors,” Baraka said. “And while we strongly support our business owners, unfortunately there are still some who have refused to abide by the Governor’s Order. It’s our responsibility to hold those businesses accountable for their actions.”

“All those cited were found not wearing masks and other personal protection equipment while serving customers,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said. “These businesses showed a total disregard for spreading the virus.”

“We cannot risk a continual spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Baraka added. “What we can do is urge everyone to be responsible, cautious, and think of the greater good. People’s lives depend on this.”

Newark’s 21 percent positive testing rate is more than twice the rate of the statewide rate. New Jersey has had 15,136 lab-confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 since the public health crisis started in March.

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