CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Coronavirus cases in New Jersey are on the rise and the first schools in South Jersey have opted to close without an official state mandate. All Burlington County schools will be closed for the next month, while Camden and Cherry Hill schools will be closed for two weeks.
On Friday night, the Camden City School District made the decision to close schools for two weeks after the second presumptive positive coronavirus case in the county was announced earlier in the day.
The school district says its schools will close for two weeks beginning on Wednesday, March 18. Schools will be closed on Monday, but will open on Tuesday, March 17, so teachers can distribute remote learning packets to students.
Burlington County schools will be closed Monday, March 16, and will be reevaluated on April 17.
“After the Burlington County Coronavirus Taskforce further evaluated CDC guidance for Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities regarding Local COVID-19 Transmission, strong actions must be taken to ensure the reduction of mass gatherings and community activities,” said Dr. Herbert Conaway, director of the Burlington County Health Department. “The goal of this temporary closure is to slow the transmission within the County. These social distancing strategies, if followed, will reduce the risk of further transmission in our community.”
Cherry Hill schools will be closed beginning on Monday and will reopen on Monday, March 30. All school-related events are canceled during the two weeks.
“It is a when and not an if,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday.
Murphy, fresh off a successful surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney, has not yet made the move to close public schools statewide.
“We have been and are now actively working with districts on extended closure plans to prepare for a potential statewide closure,” Murphy said. “For some, for many districts, that time is now.”
The total number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey now stands at 50.
The governor recommended the cancelation of all gatherings of 250 people or more on Thursday.
“If necessary, we will mandate it,” Murphy said.
Over 350 school districts have already closed in the state.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all schools in the state to be closed for two weeks.
In Camden County, a second presumptive positive case was announced.
“The truth of the matter is that we don’t know how many people in Camden County or how many people in the state of New Jersey or how many people in the United States have the virus,” Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said.
County leaders urged that the need for more testing kits is urgent.
Murphy added that statewide he predicts the need for tests will increase dramatically by next week and hopes the supply of tests coming into the state will reflect that.
The second presumptive positive case in Camden County is a woman in her 60s who had traveled to Colorado earlier this month.
She started exhibiting symptoms in Colorado before returning to Cherry Hill, where she was tested and has been quarantined in her home since. She’s doing well.
Camden County officials say the woman only had close contact with their travel partner and spouse.
CBS3’s Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.