NJ announces first coronavirus-related death

New Jersey officials have announced the first person in the state to die from coronavirus.

The patient was a 69-year-old man from Bergen County with a history of health issues, according to state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

There are now 15 presumptive positive cases in the state, including the patient who has died.

“We are sad to report the first death in a case of COVID-19 in New Jersey,” Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said in a joint statement. “Our prayers are with the family during this difficult time. We remain vigilant to doing all we can — across all levels of government — to protect the people of New Jersey.”

The patient had no history of travel outside the United States, but did travel back and forth from New York, where more than 170 cases have now been confirmed.

No further information about a possible source of the patient’s illness was disclosed.

According to Persichilli, the patient had health complications including diabetes, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, gastrointestinal bleeding and emphysema.

He was treated with antibiotics and Tamiflu for symptoms of fever and cough, but when he did not improve, he was admitted to Hackensack University Medical Center on March 6. A specimen was sent to the state public health lab the next day for testing.

“His condition started to deteriorate last evening, he suffered a cardiac arrest, was successfully revived, but suffered another arrest this morning, and expired,” said Persichilli.

There are 20 tests pending at the state lab and another 31 persons under investigation who have presented with COVID-19 symptoms are awaiting testing.

On Monday, Murphy declared a state of emergency to help the state address the spread of the disease.