A Manchester Township Police Officer and EMT's who responded to a first aid call this week of a man who later turned out to test positive for the coronavirus have been asked to self-quarantine as a precaution, according to a joint announcement from Mayor Kenneth Palmer and Chief Lisa Parker.

The Ocean County Health Department reported the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Ocean County on Friday afternoon.

The individual, a 72-year old man from Manchester, is currently recovering at Ocean Medical Center where he has been since March 9. His condition is listed as stable.

The Ocean County Health Department is waiting for confirmation from testing being done by the CDC.

In the meantime, the individual is being treated as if confirmed and is being isolated until cleared by public health officials.

The OCHD is working closely with the patient, their close contacts and health care providers to isolate and monitor persons who may have been exposed to the coronavirus and implement testing of anyone who may develop COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

The 72-year old resident was transported to the hospital earlier in the week by EMTs from Manchester Township’s Emergency Medical Services after they, along with a Manchester police officer, responded to a residence for a first aid call.

In accordance with Health Department protocols, notification of the ‘presumptive positive’ was reported so that those first responders involved in the care and transportation of the patient could be notified and appropriate action taken.

Both the police officer and the EMTs who dealt with the patient are currently in self-quarantine in accordance with guidance provided by the Manchester Medical Director and Township Administrators.

"Although none of our employees are showing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, these employees were placed on leave out of an abundance of caution," Chief Parker said. "Prior to today, routine daily decontamination procedures for apparatus, equipment, common areas and works spaces were in place and these procedures will continue in earnest going forward."

Chief Parker said that out of an abundance of caution, all work areas within the EMS and Police Building were professionally cleaned and decontaminated on Friday evening by a company specializing in such work.

Starting on Monday, March 16, several Manchester Police officers will be available Monday thru Friday between 7:00 am and 5 pm to take reports over the phone for calls that do not require evidence to be collected, an on-scene investigation to be conducted, or otherwise require an officer to respond to the scene.

Residents having incident’s meeting the above criteria are encouraged to utilize this service.

"The goal of this temporary procedure is to help cut down on unnecessary contact with individuals as a means of reducing in-person contact and mitigating the risks associated with person-to-person transmission of novel coronavirus," Parker said. "We feel that because our officers interact with many people throughout the day, having them unnecessarily interact with residents, many of which are considered ‘vulnerable’, is a prudent and judicious approach to limiting a possible exposure."

"Both the police department and township administration are committed to doing everything possible to keep our residents and our personnel safe while meeting the public safety needs of the community," the joint statement read.

As more people are being tested for the coronavirus, first responders are among those most at risk being on the front lines responding to calls about people who may be very ill.

Ocean County Public Health Coordinator Dan Regenye told WOBM News that there's a way first responders can protect themselves with some general precautions when heading to a call about someone being ill.

"If they're responding to a call and the person is sick, try to get that individual to wear a mask," Regenye said. "The masks are really recommended for those who are sick as oppose to those who are well but the first responders in having that close contact in proximity should be stepping up and doing the hand washing even more."

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