NJ closes barbershops, salons and may halt evictions as coronavirus cases hit 742
As New Jersey's death toll from the coronavirus reached nine known people on Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the indefinite closing of all personal care businesses and social clubs starting at 8 p.m. March 19.
The order applies to barbershops, hair salons, nail and eyelash salons, tattoo parlors and other establishments that would not be able to maintain 6-foot distances between workers and customers, Murphy said.
State and federal officials have been scrambling to shore up businesses and unemployed workers. Among the aid will be a law that Murphy intends to sign that would give him the authority through executive order to suspend evictions or removal of residents from foreclosed properties. [UPDATE: Murphy signed a law and executive order freezing eviction and foreclosure removals.]
The state on Thursday announced 318 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, for a total of 742 cases. The cases range in age from 3 to 95.
The state also reported four new deaths on Thursday, for a total of nine, including three deaths at two nursing homes. Six nursing home facilities have reported test results indicating coronavirus.
The state has already shuttered schools and malls and ordered restaurants to serve take-out or delivery only. Residents have been asked to stay home starting 8 p.m. every night. Local governments also have been trying to take more aggressive measures such as closing all non-essential retail stores during the emergency.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Wednesday night issued a mandatory curfew excluding emergencies and people commuting to and from work. Only essential stores like supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations are allowed to stay open after 8 p.m.
The latest deaths were of a Monmouth County woman in her 70s, an Ocean County man in his 70s, an Essex County man in his 60s and a Bergen County man in his 30s.
Information about the patients was not immediately available Thursday afternoon.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the dramatic rise in new cases was not surprising and health officials expect the totals to rise exponentially as testing becomes more widely available. A testing site that is opening at Bergen Community College, in the hardest-hit county in the state, will be able to collect 2,500 specimens a week.
Testing will prioritize people with symptoms of fever, coughing and shortness of breath, particularly people who work in healthcare settings.
The latest cases included those reported in the following counties. A map with all the known cases so far is below.
Bergen — 80
Burlington — 4
Camden — 6
Cape May — 1
Essex — 17
Gloucester — 1
Hudson — 20
Hunterdon — 2
Mercer — 5
Middlesex — 20
Monmouth — 13
Morris — 7
Ocean — 25
Passaic — 18
Somerset — 4
Sussex — 2
Union — 7
Warren — 2
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.