NJ’s first coronavirus fatality was veteran of horse racing
The New Jersey man who died after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus worked at a New York racetrack.
His case was one of four presumptive positive cases announced Tuesday — two in Bergen County and two in Burlington County — bringing New Jersey's total to 15 on Tuesday. Gov. Phil Murphy said early Wednesday that eight more tests returned positive, for a new total of 23.
The Burlington County patients counted on Tuesday, a husband and wife, had recently returned from a trip to Italy where more than 10,000 cases have been confirmed.
The man who died was one of the two new Bergen County cases counted on Tuesday. He fell ill about a week ago and was prescribed antibiotics and Tamiflu by his doctor, state officials said. When his condition worsened, he was hospitalized March 6 at Hackensack Medical Center, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Tuesday.
The man suffered a heart attack Monday night and was revived but suffered a fatal heart attack Tuesday morning, the commissioner said. His death was attributed to the virus.
ALSO: On Thursday, March 12 at 7 p.m., New Jersey 101.5 is presenting a live broadcast confronting the worldwide novel coronavirus crisis, and how it affects New Jersey residents. Listen live on New Jersey 101.5 FM, the New Jersey 101.5 app or NJ1015.com. Experts will also be on-hand to chat with visitors to a Facebook Live video simulcast of the program at Facebook.com/nj1015.
The man who died had a long list of underlying medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, gastrointestinal bleeding and emphysema. Many of the people who have died from the virus since it was first discovered in China have been older adults and those with other medical conditions.
Persichilli did not reveal his identity, but Yonkers Raceway said in a statement the man worked for the Standardbred Owners Association based at Yonkers Raceway and had last been at the track eight days before his death. The track was shut down on Tuesday afternoon and employees who worked in the immediate area of his office were told to self-quarantine.
Joe Faraldo, president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, told Harness Racing Update, the man was Yonkers Raceway field rep John Brennan and called him his "right hand man."
Feraldo told Harness Racing Update he may have been exposed to COVID-19 by Brennan and is home in bed under a doctor's care.
The United States Trotting Association said Brennan was its director for 23 year. He won the 1995 Merrie Annabelle Stake at the Meadowlands with a horse named Missy Will Do It, and was part-owner and trainer of Sugar Trader, winner of the 2003 Yonkers Trot and runner-up in the 2003 Hambletonian.
Robbinsville Township in a statement identified one of the presumptive cases from Burlington County as a 62-year-old Burlington County man who works at the Mercer Bucks Cardiology-Jefferson University Hospitals located at 1 Union Street in Robbinsville. The county's other presumptive positive case is his 60-year-old wife, Burlington County Health Department Director Herb Conaway told NJ.com.
They recently returned from a trip to Italy, Robbinsville's statement said.
The office was "thoroughly cleaned" and the West Windsor Health Department, which oversees Robbinsville, notified individuals who had been in contact with the man, whose identity was not revealed by the state or township, the statement said.
The practice closed the office immediately, advised staff to self-quarantine at home and implemented an enhanced cleaning process, according to the statement. The office remains closed.
Conaway did not immediately return a message early Wednesday morning.
James Cai, of Fort Lee, New Jersey’s first confirmed case of coronavirus, told the New York Post via text he is unable to speak because his lung is weak. He is receiving treatment at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Center.
Steps to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the New Jersey Department of Health:
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If they're not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
The CDC says symptoms of COVID-19, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, include:
- Shortness of breath
If individuals are experiencing symptoms, they should call their healthcare provider before visiting their office.
Previous reporting by Sergio Bichao was used in this report.
More from New Jersey 101.5