March 26 (UPI) — Health officials in New Jersey presume all 94 residents at a nursing home in Woodbridge have coronavirus as the United States’ death toll surpassed 900 on Wednesday.
Not all residents at St. Joseph’s Senior Home have been tested for the virus. Of those who have, 24 have tested positive and the remaining 70 are presumptive positive, health officials told WNBC-TV in New York City.
Medical workers transported all 94 residents to a CareOne nursing facility in Whippany for treatment.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said three nuns were left at the Woodbridge facility to take care of all of the residents.
“The sisters told us on Friday that 12 of their employees were home, feeling ill with respiratory symptoms,” she told the Middlesex Daily Voice.
“The sisters were working around the clock to take care of almost 90 residents. I don’t know how many were there, but when they called us, I can tell you that it was an extreme situation.”
Woodbridge is just outside New York City, the epicenter for the United States’ outbreak of COVID-19. There have been 44 deaths in New Jersey and at least 192 in New York City, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. At least 860 people have died and more than 65,000 have become sick across the country as of Wednesday afternoon.
The United States has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, next to China and Italy. That number is expected to go up as both those countries started seeing cases earlier in the year compared to the United States.
The World Health Organization said that though the U.S. cases are likely to rise, there’s still the opportunity for stay-at-home measures to prevent the United States from becoming the next epicenter of the virus.
“The potential is there, but you’ve still got time to turn it around,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris told CNN.
“You’ve got the best public health brains in the world. You’ve got people who can harness technology brilliantly. You’ve got people who can really think out of the box.”
States and local jurisdictions have been issuing stay-at-home orders across the country, and the Trump administration is recommending as many people work at home as possible and avoid coming to within 6 feet of others to stem the spread of the virus.
Waffle House, the Georgia-based breakfast food chain, announced Wednesday it closed about one-fifth of its roughly 2,000 restaurants. The chain, known for staying open even during some natural disasters, is frequently used as a measure for how serious an emergency is.
The restaurant rated its so-called Waffle House Index as “red” with the closures.