Gov. Phil Murphy is encouraging people to call a toll-free hotline if they have questions about the deadly coronavirus that originated in China and use the same practices that help fend off the common cold to keep it from potentially spreading.

Murphy on Monday created a Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate all state preparedness efforts and said Tuesday the goal is to “ensure effective communications as this evolving public health challenge continues to unfold.”

The task force will also coordinate with the federal government and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on screening passengers on flights from China into Newark Liberty International Airport, one of 11 airports in the country which flights from that country can enter the United States.

Murphy said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules include “a mandatory quarantine period for passengers who have traveled in affected areas of China over the past 14 days.”

“The process at Newark Liberty is already in effect and underway,” Murphy said. “Several flights originating from China … a total of 350 passengers were screened last night. Sixteen were put into secondary, and no passengers required further action.”

“Let me be very clear,” he said. “There are neither any confirmed cases nor persons under investigation in New Jersey at this time.”

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The Poison Control hotline, 1-800-222-1222, is available 24 hours a day to answer questions about the coronavirus, Murphy said.

“Everyone can be part of the solution by doing simple and common sense things like washing your hands with soap, preferably for 20 seconds, as my late mother would remind us, frequently and if you’re sick, please stay home,” he said.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.