NJ AG Quarantined After Mixed COVID-19 Test Results

By Bill Wichert
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Law360 (November 11, 2020, 8:47 PM EST) -- New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal is quarantining after testing positive in one of two tests he took for the novel coronavirus following his exposure at work to a staff member who also tested positive for COVID-19, a representative said Wednesday.

Grewal, who is asymptomatic, was positive via a rapid COVID-19 test, but a follow-up polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test came back negative, according to a statement from communications director Steven Barnes. Grewal will continue performing his duties virtually while quarantined at home, Barnes said.

The attorney general took the initial test after learning that the staffer — whom he interacted with at the office on Monday — tested positive, Barnes said. The staffer was not identified in the statement.

Based on existing protocols, the state's Department of Law and Public Safety has initiated the contact tracing process to inform all those who might have been in "close contact" with Grewal during the "potential infection window," Barnes said.

"Throughout the pandemic the Attorney General's office and the Department of Law and Public Safety have taken seriously the dangers of COVID-19," Barnes said. "The Attorney General urges members of the public to continue to follow public health guidelines to keep themselves and others safe."

With the rate of COVID-19 infections climbing in the Garden State, the attorney general's exposure marks the latest episode of COVID-19 making its way into the upper levels of the state government.

Three weeks ago, representatives of Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he would be quarantining as two members of his senior staff tested positive, though the governor himself came back negative for the disease. Murphy has since ended his quarantine.

The governor's office issued separate statements on Oct. 21 about the infections of Mike DeLamater, deputy chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs, and Daniel Bryan, senior advisor to the governor for strategic communications.

Those senior staffers' positive test results marked at least the second and third times that the coronavirus infiltrated the governor's inner circle.

In April, the governor's office said Murphy's then-chief counsel, Matt Platkin, tested positive for COVID-19. Platkin stepped down last month to become a Lowenstein Sandler LLP partner. He was replaced by deputy chief counsel Parimal Garg.

The latest developments come as COVID-19 cases in New Jersey have ticked upward after months of slowing down. As of Wednesday, there were 263,495 total cases, with 14,676 confirmed deaths and 1,800 probable deaths, state officials said.

--Editing by Cole Hill.

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