Coronavirus Update: Nearly 65K Cases, 2,500 Deaths; Hospitals May Have to Ration Resources


Governor Phil Murphy also ordered all telecom providers not to disconnect any Internet or phone services until a month after the pandemic subsides.

By Matt Skoufalos | April 13, 2020

NJ COVID-19 Dashboard – 4-13-20. Credit: NJ DOH.

Another 3,219 new cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been announced in New Jersey, bringing the statewide total to 64,584, Governor Phil Murphy announced Monday.

Ninety-four more New Jerseyans have died from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide total to 2,443—more than the number of New Jersey residents who perished in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined, Murphy said.

“These are real people who leave behind families whose hurts cannot be properly described,” the governor said.

Throughout New Jersey, 7,781 residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms; 1,886 are in critical or intensive care, and of those, 1,611 are on ventilators.

As of 10 p.m. Sunday night, 556 residents have been discharged from New Jersey hospitals, about a 14-percent rate, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

Seven hospitals were on diverting critical care patients Sunday evening, Persichilli said, noting that most facilities in North Jersey now report that their intensive care beds are nearing capacity.

The least at-risk patients will be transferred to alternative care sites, including the field hospitals constructed in Secaucus (currently housing 62 patients), Edison (4), and Atlantic City, which will come online next week.

For acute-care patients awaiting nursing home placement, 100 North Jersey and 100 Central Jersey nursing home beds have been prepared.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities continue to contribute to the rising number of new COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, with 29 of the new deaths announced Monday among residents of long-term care facilities, Persichilli said.

NJ DOH Commissioner Judy Persichilli – COVID-19 Briefing – 4-13-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

To date, 324 long-term care facilities in New Jersey have had at least one COVID-19 case, for a total of 5,264 cases, or about 10 percent of the estimated, 60,000-person long-term-care-facility population, Persichilli said.

Seven New Jersey labs have processed about 118,000 COVID-19 tests, 54,600 of which were positive, for a 46 percent positive rate.

“The curve is undeniably now flattening… but cases are still rising,” Murphy said, pointing to a predicted peak of 36,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 ventilators in worst-case scenarios officials have modeled.

New Jersey has been allocated another 200 ventilators from the U.S. national strategic stockpile, and now has received 1,550 in total—still short of the 2,300 the state had sought to procure to cover a predicted 1:1 ventilator-to-critical-care-bed ratio.

As that life-saving equipment can swiftly become scarce in the pandemic, the Department of Health issued guidance to hospitals about how to allocate resources for critical care patients in the event that there aren’t enough to go around.

Persichilli said the recommendations describe the creation of triage teams to ensure “consistent decision-making,” “allocation of critical care resources,” like ventilators, and “reassessment criteria to determine whether the ongoing provision of critical care resources are justified for individual patients.

“The framework is designed to create meaningful access for all patients,” she said, and seeks to avoid exclusions based on “age, disability, or other factors.”

As hospital ventilators are utilized, physicians are turning to home ventilators, BiPAP machines and repurposed anesthesia machines, Persichilli said.

NJ Gov Phil Murphy COVID-19 Briefing – 4-13-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

No phone, Internet shutoffs during pandemic, NJ joins economic coalition

Murphy signed an executive order Monday requiring telecommunications providers to delay non-payment shutoffs, service downgrades, service reductions, and late fee assessments related to Internet and phone services until 30 days after the pandemic is over.

He also ordered reconnected any Internet or phone service that was disconnected after March 16 due to non-payment.

“People actually need to stay connected,” the governor said. “Some providers have loosely interpreted what it means to stay connected. Today we are forcing them to do what’s right.

“Our kids need Internet access for remote learning,” Murphy said. “Individuals need the ability to telework and seek medical attention electronically. Families need to be able to keep each other informed.

“This is no time for anyone to have their connection to the world severed,” he said.

Finally, earlier Monday, New Jersey joined a seven-state coalition of leaders working to discuss how to reopen the regional economy once the pandemic subsides.

Read our ongoing round-up of COVID-19 coverage here.

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