NJ police: 6 deaths and 12 pending from carbon monoxide poisoning reported

New Brunswick, N.J., police said Friday the number of COVID-19 cases that have been classified as “pending” is one of the highest recorded in New Jersey history, with six of those cases as “suspected” deaths. Two of those deaths have been confirmed, but police could not confirm that carbon monoxide fumes were the cause.

The deceased and pending cases come from households near and along Route 4 East and Route 57 that are on fire but unable to be put out, said New Brunswick police spokesman Lt. Tom Donahue.

This is not the first time this particular poisoning has occurred. Investigators are looking into two more cases that may also be related to COvid-19.

“There are two people deceased that are associated with this,” Donahue said.

The news conference was attended by several emergency room doctors who said they had never seen a longer list of patients confirmed as having COv’19.

“This is only the sixth or seventh case that we know of over the last 10 years that we have cases that have expired and not necessarily in the most fine detail,” said Dr. Douglas Bradford, one of the physicians who participated in the conference call.

“The first one came about 10 years ago, a couple of months after the governor, Jim McGreevey, repealed the death penalty,” he said.

It was reported Friday that in 2012, a car driving in a construction zone on Route 27 in New Brunswick ran into a tree, sending its two occupants to the hospital.

That, like the many cases of suspected deaths related to COv’19 this week, left local residents wondering.

“From when we got it in our house, they got it pretty quick,” Steve, who lives in Plainfield and did not want his last name published, said.

His father and a friend went into the emergency room that day and were put on oxygen.

He asked that his father’s name not be used.

“It’s scary,” Steve said. “Everybody should get their COv’19 and keep it on a level, either plugged into the outlet or if you can’t plug it in. You can turn on some lights or some radio, just get the killer emissions off of your body.”

Andrea Forber, who lives in Whitehouse Station, also does not like the idea of a constant concentration of carbon monoxide fumes.

“Carbon monoxide (COv’19) detectors are useful, but right now, they’re costing too much,” she said. “It’s difficult for people who are working in order to budget for a COv’19. At the end of the day, they need to get some grants to help people afford to have them. As a result, they’re killed prematurely.”

Dr. Montgomery Harrell, chief of the emergency medicine department at Cooper Hospital in Camden, said COv’19 is toxic, so it should be given to people in the middle of the night or early morning.

He said there are two poisons that can be extremely lethal, so people with COv’19 should be treated “probably very much as if they have been poisoned by opiates or morphine or something like that.”

Because COv’19 becomes dependent on oxygen, an apparent overdose can have devastating consequences.

“On its own, with just a little exposure to the COv’19, it’s lethal. In fact, it kills people,” said James Fling, director of patient care services at Cooper.

“People need to know that this is a natural gas. They need to have it under the cover of darkness,” Fling said. “They need to keep their COv’19 as portable as possible, ideally in a fridge.”

He stressed that it can be obtained cheaply.

“It’s just something that we’ve learned not to take for granted,” he said.

State fire officials have had to repeat their warnings about this deadly gas, as hospital doctors also have; fire officials are coordinating efforts with the local district attorney’s office, fire and police departments, hospitals and other local agencies.

The death toll from this poison, while large, is at least one-tenth the number that died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2016, when it killed 16 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, 18 people died.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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