New Jersey officials are commending the “vigilance” of their community for helping find a woman who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after she gave false personal information and abruptly left the hospital.
Newark’s Mayor Ras Baraka said during a press conference on Facebook Tuesday that the unidentified patient posed a “public health risk” after exiting East Orange General Hospital over the weekend, following her positive test results.
Before she left the building on Saturday, the woman provided a false name and Newark address, which local officials later learned was not her place of residence, according to Baraka.
The mayor said the Newark Police Department was involved in the search and hoping to correctly identify the woman through the hospital’s security footage.
UPDATE: We have located the woman that was reported to have tested positive for Coronavirus. Thank you everyone for your vigilance. If you have any questions please tune into the Virtual Town Hall tonight at 7pm.— Ras J. Baraka (@rasjbaraka) March 17, 2020
He also urged the patient to come forward at the time, telling her, “You put yourself and many, many people at risk, not only in the city of Newark but all of the surrounding cities in the state, as well.”
“I’m urging you to immediately contact your health provider, go back to the East Orange General Hospital if you can. We are searching for you and we are looking for you,” Baraka said.
However, a few hours later, Baraka confirmed that New Jersey officials had successfully found the woman, but did not provide any further details about her identity.
“UPDATE: We have located the woman that was reported to have tested positive for Coronavirus. Thank you everyone for your vigilance,” he tweeted.
At this time, it is unclear if her identity will be publicly released and what caused her to lie about her personal information and leave the hospital.
A spokesperson for Baraka and the Newark Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Google Maps East Orange General Hospital in New Jersey
Besides providing details on the search, Baraka used his press conference to emphasize the importance of taking the coronavirus seriously and practicing the guidelines suggested by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“I want to reiterate to folks at the hospital, you have to give your real name, you have to give a right phone number, you have to give an emergency contact,” he explained. “This is not a joke. This is a very, very, very serious matter for many, many people involved.”
He also encouraged New Jersey residents to continue social distancing, stay inside their homes and follow the CDC’s hygiene procedures, including washing your hands, to prevent the spread of germs.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were at least 5,303 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 96 deaths, according to The New York Times. In New Jersey alone, there are currently 268 cases and 3 confirmed deaths, the outlet reported.
The third death was confirmed on Monday night by Gov. Phil Murphy, who revealed in a tweet that the person was a 90-year-old male who had been receiving treatment at Hackensack University Medical Center in Bergen County.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.