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Murphy announces coronavirus testing expansions as number of cases, deaths increase in NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said they are working to expand the number of test kits and testing locations available throughout New Jersey. – Photo by Flickr

New Jersey has 155 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, bringing the statewide total to 890 cases, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced on Friday. In addition to these new positive cases, Murphy announced two more deaths from COVID-19. This increases the number of fatalities in New Jersey to 11.

“I mentioned earlier that we are almost certainly going to tighten the screws on social distancing,” he said. “If we do that, it’s likely tomorrow — effective for tomorrow night.”

While there are still 94 cases that have yet to be assigned a county, Murphy said Salem County is the only one of the 21 counties in New Jersey without a confirmed case of COVID-19.

“While the numbers are the biggest by far in Bergen (County), and the North is more impacted right now than the South, we take the entirety of the state deadly seriously,” he said. 

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that of the 11 total deaths, nine were confirmed to have had comorbid conditions while the remaining two are still under investigation. Four of the deaths were also associated with a long-term care facility.

Persichilli added that regardless of age, they found conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and obesity, among other things, in a majority of the individuals who have tested positive.

“As I’ve said, we will see more cases in the coming weeks, a lot more cases,” she said. “As we see more cases, especially among nursing home residents and those with underlying medical conditions, stresses on our healthcare system will build exponentially. I’m very concerned about that.”

In regards to direct cash assistance to combat the spread of COVID-19, Murphy said an estimated $100 billion is needed between New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Murphy said the first drive-through testing site in New Jersey opened today at Bergen Community College and successfully tested 600 individuals for the virus. He said this testing site will open at 8 a.m. each day and continue to test individuals until they reach a daily total of 350 tests. 

In addition to this site, Murphy said they plan to open another drive-through testing site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, on Monday at 8 a.m.

In order to be tested at these sites and other future sites, Murphy said you must bring identification to prove you are a New Jersey resident and you must be showing symptoms of respiratory illness.

“If you are feeling perfectly healthy, if you are among the so-called ‘worried well,’ there is at this time no need for you to get tested,” he said. “Let’s ensure that our resources are available, first and foremost, to those who are at greatest risk.”

Murphy also announced they have partnered with BioReference Laboratories and LabCorp to increase the testing capacities throughout New Jersey. He said the New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Laboratories will soon process 1,000 tests a day and are working to develop test kit components that will relieve shortages throughout other parts of the state.

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