NEWARK - The COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) outbreak has hit New Jersey hard. Thousands of residents are ill with coronavirus (confirmed positive) and the numbers continues to soar each day. During this time of uncertainty, all residents are frightened and concerned for their health and that of their loved ones.
In response, Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Health established the NJ Coronavirus Hotline, 1-800-962-1253, to provide up-to-date medical information about this emerging outbreak to the public, 24/7, in any language.
This is in partnership with NJ 2-1-1, the statewide hotline providing non-medical assistance about COVID-19 including information about housing, unemployment, and testing site locations.
The New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES), also known as the New Jersey Poison Center, has been part of the State’s COVID-19 response since late January when the Governor announced opening the NJ Coronavirus Hotline.
Poison Center staff have worked around the clock to provide a reliable resource to concerned New Jerseyans — credible information to alleviate fear and dispel rumors, up-to-date guidance for ill persons and the worried well, and best-practices for prevention.
NJPIES has also recruited many healthcare volunteers within Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) to assist with call volume. With emerging outbreaks, information changes quickly. Poison center staff are in daily contact with State and Federal health officials to monitor questions as they arise and to also participate in daily briefings on new information.
“Since its inception, the State’s Coronavirus Hotline has assisted over 15,000 New Jersey callers, with an unprecedented surge in call volume as the pandemic has unfolded in our state,” stated Dr. Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine.
“To ensure the coronavirus hotline stays accessible to the public during the current surge, we implemented a contingency plan which enables us to continue our mission of providing medical advice and assistance 24/7 — expanded our available phone lines, put remote teleworker status into effect to allow additional staff on the phones, and deployed a multidisciplinary team of Rutgers graduate student and faculty volunteers. Moving forward, we continue to expand our staffing with dedicated healthcare volunteers throughout the state.”
As COVID-19 continues to march through New Jersey, the hotline will be available 24 hours a day to assist the public with their growing concerns.
“We ask that callers remain patient while waiting to speak with one of our staff. Hold times are longer than usual for the Poison Center as we continue to provide medical advice and assistance to over 500 callers a day,” stated Calello.
Are you a New Jersey resident looking for information on novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? There are three options available — Call 2-1-1; Call 1-800-962-1253 (the NJ Poison Center); or Text: NJCOVID to 898-211.
If someone is unconscious, not breathing, hard to wake up, or having a seizure, call 9-1-1 immediately.