UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said Tuesday afternoon that authorities had located the woman who had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Baraka, however, did not immediately release other details, including where the woman actually lived. The initial news story is below.


NEWARK — Health and law enforcement officials in Essex County are scrambling to find a woman who tested positive for the new coronavirus but who provided authorities with a false name and address.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Tuesday said the woman tested positive after visiting East Orange General Hospital on Saturday.

When Newark health officials went to the Newark address that the patient had provided, they realized that no such person lived there. Police have not been able to identify or locate the woman, the mayor said Tuesday.

Baraka said the city was working with the Essex County Prosecutor's Office to obtain a court order, if needed, to compel the hospital to provide video surveillance in order to help identify the woman, describing her as a "public health risk to herself and to the entire community."

In a written statement issued after the mayor's remarks, East Orange General Hospital said it "has been working closely with the Newark Department of Health, Newark Police Department, East Orange Department of Health, and East Orange Police Department.

"We have already provided them with all information requested. Patient privacy laws constrain us from providing further comment to the public about a specific patient or case.”

Baraka, in a video message on Facebook, urged the woman to come forward to a medical professional.

"If you are that person and you went to East Orange General Hospital and you were sick and got tested, the test came came back positive," Baraka said. "Because you gave a false name, because you gave a false address, you put yourself and many, many people at risk. Not only in the city of Newark, but all the surrounding cities in the state as well."

"This is not a joke," he added.

The mayor did not provide any details about the woman's age or appearance.

After a patient tests positive for the new coronavirus, health officials urge them to self-quarantine as investigators trace where the person has been and who they may have come in contact with while they've been contagious.

The number of known positive cases in New Jersey reached 178 on Monday, with 32 in Essex County. Three people have died in the state.

State and local authorities this week have been implementing business and resident curfews. In Bergen County, which has been hit the hardest, government officials are preparing to shut down all non-essential retail and service businesses this weekend.

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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.