A fourth Montclair resident was among the 89 new cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey announced Tuesday, March 17, as the number of positive cases statewide jumped to 267.

The Montclair resident was identified by state officials as a 73-year-old woman who tested positive at HackensackUMC Mountainside Hospital.

There are now 32 cases of COVID-19 in Essex County, rising by 12 overnight. A 90-year-old Bergen County man died last night due to complications from the virus, bringing the number of deaths in New Jersey to three.

The number of announced cases has nearly tripled since Sunday, going from 98 to 178 on Monday.

The announcement made at today’s briefing with government officials follows Gov. Phil Murphy's ordering of all restaurants and bars, theaters and gyms to be closed as of Monday night, and a statewide travel restriction from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. All non-essential businesses are to close by 8 p.m. Essential stores such as grocers, pharmacies, gas stations and medical facilities can stay open past 8 p.m., but occupancy should be limited to no more than 50. Daycare centers could remain open.

Gov. Murphy added to that list Tuesday, announcing that all malls would close as well and every school would close by Wednesday. 

“This virus is unlike any we have seen in our lifetime,” said Murphy.

The county was not able to provide specific towns for the new cases. 

According to state officials, 15 of New Jersey’s 21 counties have had at least one positive test as of Monday. Bergen County has been the hardest-hit with 84, followed by Essex County (32), Hudson County (24), Middlesex and Monmouth counties (22), Union County (15), Passaic County (10), Mercer County (9), Morris and Somerset counties (7), Burlington County (5), Ocean and Hunterdon counties (4), Camden County (3) and Gloucester County (2). The age of individuals affected ranges from 5 to 93, with 55 percent requiring hospitalization, said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. 

Murphy said that concern grew over the weekend when officials saw videos posted on social media of packed bars. 

“This is not business as usual,” he said.

Restaurants throughout the state are now offering take-out and delivery services only and were provided a waiver for carry-out alcohol. Montclair Township is now offering free parking at meters for pickups.

Montclair also announced the closure of all municipal offices to the public as of 4:40 p.m. 

When asked if the state would impose a shelter-in-place requirement such as done in California’s Bay Area, Murphy said it was too early to tell if the mitigation measures were “flattening the curve” in the number of cases. It could take weeks before New Jersey would know which layers of isolation mitigations are working, said Persichilli.

The National Guard, which can be called in by governors during emergencies, has been deployed to help with traffic control, security, transportation, distribution of food and the conversion of spaces for self-quarantining.

Doctor’s offices have advised patients not to enter the office if they are displaying flu-like symptoms, health officials say, and to call their doctor to arrange a telemedicine appointment or to be re-routed to a designated urgent care facility. 

Murphy urged businesses to allow their employees to work from home, and to make sure employees continue to be paid in the event of a business shutdown. 

But as businesses closed yesterday, the online benefits center saw a surge in residents applying for Unemployment Benefits, so much so the system shut down, said Murphy. Residents who are not getting paid through the COVID-19 outbreak can apply for unemployment, earned sick leave, temporary disability and family leave insurance whether they are full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal.

He also urged people to continue the social distancing as people could be asymptomatic but still be a carrier.

“You could visit a loved one, grandparent, a coach and pass it along,” he said.

The Montclair Health Department reminds the public to practice proper hygiene:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and remember to throw the tissue into the trash.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick.