TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday creating a task force aimed at preparing the state to deal with the potential fallout from a virus that has spread to more than 20 countries and infected more than 17,000 people. Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement that Newark Liberty International Airport will serve as one of 11 major airports in the country authorized to receive travelers from China, requiring extra screening for the virus.
“With the outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus around the world, it is critical that New Jersey has strong preparedness protocols in place,” Murphy said in a statement. “By establishing the Coronavirus Task Force, we are bringing together experts across state agencies, health officials, and federal partners to ensure that we are working collaboratively to protect the health and safety of all New Jerseyans.”
Murphy said New Jersey has no confirmed cases of the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December.
Since December, the virus has sickened thousands, mostly in China. Symptoms include fever, cough and in more severe cases shortness of breath or pneumonia.
The task force will be chaired by Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and includes other members of the governor’s Cabinet.
The task force will coordinate with the federal government and the Newark airport “to ensure effective communications and dissemination of information,” according to the governor. The panel will also coordinate with hospitals to manage preparations for the possible treatment of patients.
Chinese health authorities have reported 361 deaths and 17,205 confirmed cases, an increase of 2,829 over a 24-hour period.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)