Statewide, tests are coming back positive at a 34-percent rate, a sign that the right people are being tested, the governor says. More ventilators are needed as hospitals brace for a surge in cases.
By Matt Skoufalos | March 27, 2020
Another 1,928 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 8,825, Governor Phil Murphy announced Friday.
Thirty-three of them were reported in Camden County following Murphy’s briefing, bringing the total county caseload to 117 and one death.
- a Barrington man in his 50s
- a Camden City man in his 30s
- five Cherry Hill men in their 30s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 90s, and two Cherry Hill woman in their 50s and 60s
- a Collingswood man in his 40s
- two Gloucester Township men in their 50s and 60s, and two Gloucester Township women in their 20s
- a Haddonfield woman in her 30s
- a Haddon Township man in his 50s
- three Lindenwold women in their 30s, 40s, and 60s
- a Merchantville man and woman, both in their 50s
- three Pennsauken men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and two Pennsauken woman in their 50s and 60s
- a Pine Hill man in his 40s and woman in her 50s
- a Voorhees man in his 20s and woman in her 40s
- two Winslow men in their 20s and 60s, and a woman in her 40s
About 20 percent of COVID-19 patients in Camden County have been hospitalized by the virus.
Murphy also reported another 27 COVID-19-related deaths in New Jersey, as the statewide fatality total hit 108.
Nearly 25,000 tests have been conducted (24,843), with an overall positivity rate of 34 percent (8,296 positive cases), said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
Those figures include 1,080 hospitalized patients who have tested positive, Persichilli said. They don’t include another 1,872 patients who are still awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
There is a weeklong backlog of testing in New Jersey, “due to the overwhelming volume of requested tests,” Persichilli said. That means the positive results reported today are from tests administered almost a week ago, and do not take into account the fullness of social distancing interventions begun since then.
“Any projection at this point in time is suffering from a lack of information,” Persichilli said. “We’re really relying on those at the bedside to know the needs of patients.
“Social distancing reduces the transmissions of the disease, reduces the rising cases, and flattens out the number of hospitalizations at any one time,” she said.
By mid-April, the state we will see an increasing demand in critical care beds, Persichilli said. She’d like hospitals to have additional ventilators on-hand to care for the patients that need them. At a suggested rate of one ventilator per intensive care unit bed in New Jersey, the state will need about 2,000 more; it is seeking to procure 2,300, Persichilli said.
She also pointed out that the anticipated surge in the number of COVID-19 cases—the so-called curve to “flatten”—is a different problem than hitting peak caseload.
“We believe we’ll be fine handling the critical care surge,” Persichilli said. “Ventilators are another story. If the surge results in more individuals needing ventilators than our projections, we certainly need to get ventilators in reserve.”
Unmet demand for testing
Murphy also offered remarks on testing availability, which so far has been limited to symptomatic patients with prescriptions for tests and healthcare workers and first responders believed to be at risk for the virus.
“Testing the ‘worried well’ and the asymptomatic would be an inappropriate use of our testing supplies, an unnecessary stress on our labs and on our healthcare workers, and would not provide us with the critical data we need to get out in front and to stay out in front,” the governor said.
“The most important data points we can get are positives among symptomatic individuals,” he said.
Call for volunteers, donations, PPE
Given the anticipated shortfall in human resources to meet demands for healthcare as the virus continues to spread, Murphy issued requests for qualified volunteers and donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
He also ordered any business or non-hospital healthcare facility in possession of PPE to report its inventory to the state by 5 p.m. Friday.
“We are very mindful of the need for trained medical personnel to help us ensure proper staffing,” the governor said. “We are blessed to have committed healthcare workers. We need to call for experienced backup.
“We’re looking across our nation for help,” he said, inviting “retired nurses or doctors, medical students, EMTs, [and] former medical corps officers” to commit to the fight.
The governor added that his office is working with businesses statewide “regarding possible transportation and lodging for those from outside the area.”
News on mortgages forthcoming
Murphy also teased “a full announcement” tomorrow on any relief for property owners forced out of work by the COVID-19 shutdown.
“We have been speaking directly with mortgage lenders and others on solutions,” he said.
“We are working tirelessly on this.”
The governor also urged residents to buckle down amid a potentially protracted battle against COVID-19.
“I don’t see any scenario in which this doesn’t bleed meaningfully into May, but if I’m wrong, I’ll be the happiest guy in America,” he said.
In his remarks, Murphy urged residents to take heart against “the loneliness we’re facing not just as a state, but as a nation right now.
“All of us would like to know more than we know right now,” he said. “At the same time, it also feels like this grave moment is reaching deep into our souls and our better selves.”
Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try Direct Dispatch, our new text service.