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State officials provide update on coronavirus in NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said hospitalizations are currently experiencing a downward trend. He said hospital data will help inform their decisions on the future reopening of the state and how to handle a spike in cases that may occur not only once New Jersey reopens, but also in the event COVID-19 reappears later in the year. – Photo by Flickr

At a press conference today, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) reported 3,528 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in New Jersey with an additional 177 deaths. This brings the statewide total to 88,806 cases with 4,377 deaths.

He said they are now providing data on long-term care facilities who have reported at least one case of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s COVID-19 website

Murphy also provided several images to show the current rate COVID-19 is spreading throughout the state, as well as to show the change in the number of residents hospitalized by the virus. He said 6,986 residents are hospitalized, with 2,018 requiring critical or intensive care. From Saturday and Sunday, 583 residents were discharged.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are experiencing a downward trend, Murphy said.

“It means that our healthcare system is in a better position to be able to get ahead and stay ahead. It means that our aggressive social distancing efforts are having their desired effects,” he said. “These are real numbers. This is reality in our healthcare system, and it means that as new cases are identified — as we take steps to ramp up and expand our testing regime — we will be in a better place to capture and contain COVID-19.”

Murphy said this hospital data will help inform their decisions on the future reopening of the state and how to handle a spike in cases that may occur not only once New Jersey reopens, but also in the event COVID-19 reappears later in the year. In addition to this, he said resources are still needed in order to get universal testing, despite New Jersey being the fourth-highest tested state in the country.

In terms of the actual guidelines and principles needed to reopen the state, Murphy said he will announce these benchmarks in the upcoming days.

“Do not think for one minute that we’re going to be able to flip a switch and return to life as we know it. We will be careful and we will be strategic,” he said. “We will make decisions based on facts and medical science so that we do not experience or exacerbate a second boomerang wave. As I mentioned earlier, that is a real possibility with a virus like this, even if we do everything exactly right.”

Murphy also reiterated the idea that personal health creates economic health. He said consumer confidence will only fully return once people feel their health is secure and safe.

In addition to this, Murphy said he has been in contact with President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the continued need for direct cash assistance, liberal interpretation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and partnership with the federal government in regard to manpower and technology.

The distribution of personal protective equipment was also discussed. Murphy said the Office of Emergency Management, which is under the leadership of New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan, has distributed more than 10 million pieces of personal protective equipment from New Jersey’s stockpile. In the past week alone, he said it has moved approximately 5 million pieces.

A decontamination unit for N95 masks was also given to the state by Battelle and is currently being set up in Edison, Murphy said.

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli provided updates on inspections of New Jersey’s long-term care facilities to ensure their compliance with the state’s regulations and guidelines.

She said the survey teams are looking at the infection control within the facilities, staffing, the availability of personal protective equipment and the implementation of an outbreak response plan. For facilities that issued deficiency reports, Persichilli said they will now be required to submit directed plans of correction this week.

As for the three field hospitals, she said more than 200 individuals have served at both the Edison and Secaucus locations. Eighty medical personnel and staff were trained at the Atlantic City location yesterday, and Persichilli said they expect to begin serving patients later this week.

Callahan also provided updates on compliance issues in regard to the stay-at-home executive order. In one of the instances, Callahan said it was important that other residents notified officers of the behavior.

“For the most part, folks are overwhelmingly doing the right thing, God bless you and thank you for that,” Murphy said. “We need you to continue doing that.”

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