November 29, 2020
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across New Jersey, the state’s top health official has been sidelined and forced to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a coworker who tested positive for the virus.
Commissioner Judy Persichilli and other staff members will self-quarantine and voluntarily work from home through Dec. 8 “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a statement issued by the New Jersey Department of Health.
In the meantime, Persichilli will not be partaking in in-person press conferences or public appearances during the self-isolation period.
The employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was last in the department’s Trenton office this past Tuesday and has since been self-quarantining at home. The state health department’s office has since been closed for cleaning.
“We have begun the contact tracing process to notify everyone who may have come into contact with our colleague during the potential infection window, and will offer testing to close contacts,” Department of Health communications director Donna Leusner said.
Persichilli is the latest New Jersey official to self-quarantine after coming into close contact with a state employee who has contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic.
Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy were forced to self-quarantine in late October after coming into contact with a pair of staff members who tested positive for the virus. Neither of them contracted COVID-19.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was forced to self-isolate earlier this month after being exposed to a staff member who had contracted the coronavirus. A rapid COVID-19 test initially returned a positive result, but Grewal tested negative for the virus after receiving a PCR test.
New Jersey reported 3,924 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, increasing the statewide total to 330,275 since the pandemic began. Murphy called the recent uptick in cases “alarming.”
The state has had 15,136 lab-confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 since the public health crisis started in March.