March 16, 2020
March 16, 2020

(Toms River) – The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) is reporting today the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Ocean County. The individual, a man in his 70’s, is from Manchester. He is currently recovering at Ocean Medical Center where he has been since March 9. His condition is stable.

 “The Ocean County Health Department has been preparing for this event since day one. We are moving forward with the appropriate plans, and we are working directly with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and local medical providers to ensure this individual receives the proper treatment and that anyone who has come into contact with him is following the appropriate protocols, mitigating any further spread,” advises Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator.

“On account of the comprehensive preparations and diligent work the OCHD has organized since COVID-19 was identified in early January, we and our partnering agencies are well prepared to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus,” adds Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “We ask that everyone continue to follow all the appropriate protocols and guidance the health department and our health partners have been providing the community in an effort to minimize spread of infection.”

The Ocean County Health Department is waiting for confirmation from testing being done by the CDC. In the meantime, the individual is being treated as if confirmed and is being isolated until cleared by public health officials. The OCHD is working closely with the patient, their close contacts and health care providers to isolate and monitor persons who may have been exposed to the coronavirus and implement testing of anyone who may develop COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Further information will be provided by the health department as it becomes available.

“We just want our residents to know that while this is a serious public health issue, the risk is still low at the moment,” adds Patricia High, OCHD Assistant Public Health Coordinator. “We want people to continue with their daily activities, but to be more vigilant regarding hand and respiratory hygiene, practice safe distancing and prevent travel to affected areas.”

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from the COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. As a reminder, the OCHD recommends preventive actions to help halt the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol; and
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe;
  • Get a flu shot! The OCHD is offering free flu shots.(Please call us at 732-341-9700 to make a reservation).

The CDC does not recommend that healthy individuals, demonstrating no symptoms, wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

A person that experiences a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel to affected areas and any other destination under CDC travel advisory should call ahead to their health care provider.

If a person has had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area or been in contact with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, they should call ahead to a health care professional. The health care professional will work with the OCHD to determine if the person should be tested.

For more information on COVID-19, visit www.ochd.org. Or call their hotline available around the clock for questions at 1-800-222-1222. OCHD has also set up a hotline number for residents questions regarding the coronavirus. The number is 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.

You can also call the NJDOH hotline available around the clock for questions at 1-800-222-1222.

Additional information can be found at:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

https:/ /www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/summary.html

or  New Jersey Department of Health website at:

https://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml .