NJ Governor Phil Murphy also announces upgrades for the state’s beleaguered unemployment system.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 14, 2020
Another 4,059 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 68,824 cases, Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday.
Murphy reported that 365 more New Jerseyans have perished from complications related to the virus, for a total of 2,805.
Six of them were Camden County residents, the county government announced Tuesday evening.
Throughout the state, 8,185 residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, and 2,051 of them are in critical or intensive care; of those, 1,626 are on ventilators.
As of 10 p.m. Monday, 514 patients were discharged from New Jersey hospitals, either to lower-acuity care centers or their homes. Throughout the state, 128,604 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, of which 57,654 were positive, or 44.83 percent.
Based on the latest predictive modeling, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli forecasted the virus could peak by April 25, with 15,922 hospitalizations, 3,821 intensive and critical-care patients, and 3,503 ventilators required.
“If this is the worst case, I think our hospitals are very prepared to take care of the individuals,” Persichilli said. “Our alternative care sites will be very busy, appropriately staffed, and adequate.”
In a nod to how variable the data are, she concluded, “And this will change tomorrow.”
Murphy cautioned that those figures are contingent upon residents conforming to social distancing guidelines; without them, he said, “the better news on modeling goes right out the window.”
According to trends seen thus far with the virus, 80 to 85 percent of patients will only experience mild symptoms that can be treated at home, Persichilli said. Another 15 percent will require hospitalization, with 5 percent needing intensive care, and 1 percent contracting fatal cases of the virus.
Long-term care cases continue to mount
Twenty-seven of the new deaths and 5,945 cases in total have originated in long-term care facilities, Persichilli said.
To support these facilities, the state health department has issued 18 different guidances on topics from staffing and care for COVID-19 patients to supplemental information on CNAs, LPNs, and RNs who can come to work as needed.
Throughout New Jersey and the country, the biggest delay in addressing the pandemic centers on the lack of available testing.
Persichilli said there’s hope that a new, self-administered saliva test developed by Rutgers University could offer potential for mass COVID-19 testing. It was approved through an accelerated process by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“If we greatly increase the number of people tested, that will allow the state to collect the data we need vital to informing our state strategies going forward,” Persichilli said.
CARES Act aid hitting accounts today
Frustrations continue to mount among those seeking to access their unemployment benefits through the beleaguered New Jersey system, and the governor addressed these in his Tuesday briefing as well.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has fielded a historic number of unemployment applications, Murphy said—576,904 in the past three weeks alone.
In response, the department has expanded its call center capacity, automated processes for the determination of benefits eligibility, and provided laptops to 500 employees to work from home.
“Even with these steps in place, we ask for your continued understanding,” Murphy said, urging those who connect with the office to be patient with staff.
“Let’s all be kind to one another and support one another,” he said.
New Jersey is one of the first states where residents will receive the additional $600-per-week federal CARES Act unemployment benefits, which Murphy said will begin hitting accounts today. Those employed at workplaces where there’s currently work available are not eligible.
Murphy also said he’ll sign a bill authorizing 12 weeks of leave in a 24-month period for anyone caring for a relative sick with COVID-19.
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