As more lives are lost to the pandemic, New Jersey must ‘keep focused on pushing these numbers down further,’ the governor says, noting that 90,000-plus have cleared their two-week risk thresholds for the virus.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 6, 2020
Another 1,513 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 131,890 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.
Sadly, 308 more residents perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 8,549 lives lost during the pandemic.
In a majority of counties, COVID-19 cases are doubling at least every 30 days; in Camden County, cases are doubling every 20 days.
Since the onset of the pandemic and the earliest days of COVID-19 testing “more than 90,000 New Jerseyans have now exited the important two-week incubation window” for the virus, Murphy said.
“We’re seeing good signs, without question, but we cannot lull ourselves into thinking that all is well,” the governor said. “So let’s keep focused on pushing these numbers down further.”
Throughout New Jersey, 5,221 people are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19, or while awaiting confirmation of their symptoms, marking a full week of declining numbers, the governor said.
Of those, 1,549 are in intensive or critical care, and 1,146 (74 percent) are on ventilators, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
In the past 24 hours, hospitals admitted 439 new patients and discharged 435 others, either to a lower-acuity care setting or to their homes. Thirty-six patients are presently receiving care at one of the state’s field medical stations, which have served 400 people in total.
Statewide, 512 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and account for 23,345 infected people statewide and 4,261 deaths. Of 676 veterans residing in a state-run home, 361 residents have tested positive for the virus, and 125 have died from complications related to the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 168 of 1,250 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and 10 people have died from complications related to the virus.
Public health emergency extended another 30 days
At the top of today’s briefing, the governor announced an extension of New Jersey’s public health emergency by 30 more days.
It’s the second time the emergency declaration has been extended since the onset of the pandemic; such legal mechanisms expire after 30 days unless extended, Murphy said.
“This action does not mean that we are seeing anything in the data which would pause our path forward, and it should not be interpreted by anyone to mean we are tightening the restrictions currently in place,” the governor said.
“We are still in a public health emergency,” he said.
The authority to extend the declaration exists in the New Jersey Civilian Defense and Disaster Control Act, and the state Emergency Health Powers Act, said Murphy’s chief counsel Matt Platkin.
“The duration of a state of emergency is dependent upon the facts that cause or created the state of emergency, and obviously the facts that created the emergency based on the presentation today continue to exist,” Platkin said.
Spotlight on LTCs
In addition to yesterday’s announcement that New Jersey would increase its focus on long-term care facilities, which have borne the brunt of the fatalities in the pandemic, Murphy said Wednesday that a team of national experts would be supporting that investigation.
Led by consultants Cindy Mann, former U.S. Director at the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, and Carol Raphael, former CEO and president of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), the team will spend two or three weeks reviewing LTC issues to make “long-term, systemic reform recommendations,” Murphy said.
Persichilli said the state Department of Health is “looking forward to working with these teams of experts,” and hopes their recommendations can help LTCs “contain infection safely in the future and care for residents and staff.”
The commissioner also noted that at least a few dozen LTCs throughout the state are still facing urgent shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields, gloves, gowns, N95s, and masks.
Read our ongoing round-up of COVID-19 coverage here.
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