4th coronavirus case in NJ, Blue Cross will cover tests for free
State health officials Friday evening said they'd identified a fourth presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus in New Jersey.
The latest case involves a man in his 50s, hospitalized at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Bergen County since March 5, Gov. Phil Murphy and other officials said in a joint statement.
They didn't say whether the man was known to have had contact with any of the other individuals known to have novel coronavirus in New Jersey.
As with other cases in New Jersey, the man's test result was performed by a state Department of Health lab and is considered "presumptive positive" until it's confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State officials said they're proceeding as though it's a confirmed case.
State officials are also awaiting test results for another potential coronavirus case currently classified as a "person under investigation."
Over the past few weeks, several people tested for coronavirus in New Jersey have turned up negative, but presumptive positive results began appearing in early March.
Earlier Friday, state officials announced the third presumptive positive case, in Camden County. That case involved a man in his 60s who has been hospitalized since March 3. They did not give an exact location.
The state's first two cases were reported in Bergen County, where a 32-year-old part-time Fort Lee resident who works in the healthcare industry in New York was first hospitalized — also on March 3 — at Hackensack University Medical Center.
On Thursday, the state confirmed a second case in a woman in her 30s who has been released from Englewood Hospital and is in self-quarantine at home.
Officials said the woman may have been in the same New York building that the man who became New Jersey's first case had been working. Officials did not identify the building.
"State and local public health authorities are proceeding with the public health investigation and response activities as if this was a confirmed case and following all infectious disease protocols," the Murphy administration said in a written statement Friday about the third case.
Throughout the state, 11 people were awaiting testing results as of Friday afternoon.
In neighboring states, New York had confirmed 44 cases and Pennsylvania had confirmed two as of Friday.
Worry about the virus has led to schools, government agencies and businesses taking precautions. State agencies have restricted out-of-state travel, for example. Public schools have been preparing for the possibility of having to close or have students take remote-learning classes from home.
State regulators also have warned retailers against price gouging on items like face masks and hand sanitizers, which have been selling out.
Nationally, 14 people have died from COVID-19, which has symptoms similar to the flu.
Insurance rules relaxed
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey said Friday it would waive prior authorization requirements for visits to primary care physicians, urgent care centers or emergency rooms for evaluation of upper respiratory symptoms, fever, shortness of breath or other conditions that may represent COVID-19.
It also said it would waive prior authorizations for "diagnostic tests and for covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance if diagnosed with COVID-19."
The insurer said it would cover the full cost of conoravirus tests as well.
HBCBS said it would waive early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications, and provide access to telehealth and nurse advise hotlines to help people whose symptoms are consistent with a coronavirus infection.