As efforts continue to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in New Jersey, state health officials are directing people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said people should keep a distance of about 6 feet from others in a social situation, which is called social distancing. Any closer, and that's considered close contact.

She said it is believed the novel coronavirus goes from one person to another in a similar way that influenza spreads.

Persichilli said with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, there is no current directive for people to not attend events like parades.

“Our concern is more for the gatherings before the parade, and certainly gatherings and parties after the parade," she said Tuesday after announcing the state's first death from coronavirus. "We feel very strongly that people that are frail, not feeling well, immune-suppressed, vulnerable in any way, they should not go.”

Persichilli, who also chairs the New Jersey Coronavirus Task Force, said as more people get the novel coronavirus in New Jersey, depending on where the cases are and how serious the situation becomes, mitigation efforts will be ramped up accordingly.

“When we start seeing community spread there is no doubt that we will be exercising more vigilance in our recommendations for closures, travel, mass transit," she said.

Persichilli was quick to add, however, that she does not expect community spread to happen.

Dr. Tina Tan, the state epidemiologist, said that “early containment will help prevent community spread [but] we do have to continue with mitigation efforts as well.”

Persichilli said if the number of novel coronavirus cases increases dramatically and more significant mitigation efforts are needed, the self-quarantine recommendations could become direct orders, although to this point no one is believed to have disobeyed a self-quarantine recommendation in New Jersey.

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