Woodbridge assisted-living facility evacuated after being hit by coronavirus
WOODBRIDGE — All senior patients from a nursing home ravaged by the novel coronavirus have been moved into a new Morris County site equipped to handle them, Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said Wednesday.
McCormac said 79 patients were transported from St. Joseph's senior home assisted living to a CareOne facility in the Whippany section of Hanover.
State Police escorted six medical buses on the route further north, mobilizing two buses at a time, the mayor said.
"This is state, county, township and the private sector — everybody working together," McCormac said, noting he was amazed at how everyone had pulled together in a time of crisis.
He also said state Health Commissioner Judy Perischilli and her team took "immediate, swift decisive action" to get the impacted patients to a better place.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday how many patients or staff had tested positive but McCormac said he knew of a dozen cases that had tested positive by Wednesday morning.
The CareOne facility had been providing relief nurses to the overwhelmed Woodbridge site since Sunday.
Persichilli said Tuesday that the facility reached out to heath officials on Friday after 12 employees came down with respiratory symptoms and had to stay home, leaving a limited number of staff working back-to-back shifts to assist more than 90 residents.
NBC New York reporter Brian Thompson shared video of the evacuation, as seen on Twitter:
St. Joseph's is a nonprofit Catholic healthcare facility operated by the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception since 1981.
The evacuation of the Woodbridge assisted living facility came on the same day that New Jersey announced 18 more deaths related to COVID-19, for a total of 62 statewide so far.
Of those who have died from the virus, 26% have been long-term care facility residents, according to state Health Commissioner Judy Perischilli.
"We are reviewing the residents’ records, which all existed on paper at St. Joseph’s, to get a better sense of the scope of positive cases, and the condition of patients," CareOne Executive Vice President Lizzy Straus said in a written statement.
"Reviewing the availability of rooms in our facilities, we were able to temporarily relocate our residents from CareOne at Hanover Township in Whippany to nearby CareOne facilities, enabling us to accommodate the St. Joseph patients."
NBC reported at least 24 residents and patients had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon.