CAMDEN, NJ — The COVID-19 pandemic has not relented on New Jerseyans since March, claiming loved-ones, putting families in financial ruts and set to change the fabric of the holiday season to come.
With three days to go until Thanksgiving, Gov. Phil Murphy shared resources for those feeling overwhelmed.
“We recognize that with everything that we have already endured, plus the fact that our holidays have to look differently this year to protect ourselves, our families and our communities…the stress may become too much for some to bear,” Murphy said Monday afternoon during a coronavirus press briefing from the George Washington Ballroom in Trenton. “Please know that help is available.”
If you need to reach out for resources call 1-866-202-4357, text “NJHOPE” to 51684 or video conference at 973-870-0677 (for the deaf and hard-of-hearing).
“I would stress absolutely the ability to be anonymous, as it relates to those numbers…,” Murphy said, noting that state workers will keep your personal information secure. “Again, they're professionals, and they’re live. So this is not press one, if you want X, press two if you want Y.”
The governor continued to caution residents against holding “multi-generational gatherings” Thursday, saying they are prone to exceed the indoor limits and put people at risk. State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, noted that since October the highest coronavirus positivity rate has been in people between 19 and 49 years of age.
“It appears that younger individuals are exposing older, more vulnerable loved-ones…your grandmother, your grandfather, a vulnerable older neighbor. This has to stop," Persichilli said before pausing. “You need to be more careful. You need to be safe, not only for yourself, but also for your loved-ones.”
She provided the following Thanksgiving Day tips:
- You should celebrate only with members of your immediate household
- If you gather with others, please limit the number of attendees to allow people from different households to remain at least six feet apart
- The best option is to host outdoors rather than indoors as much as possible
- Even if you are outdoors, require guests to wear face masks when not eating or drinking
- If you do host indoors, increase the ventilation by opening the windows and the doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation
- If you are hosting, provide attendees with supplies to help everyone to stay healthy and safe
- Have extra hand sanitizer that contain at least 60% alcohol, stock bathrooms with enough hand soap and single-use towels and remind attendees about washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
New cases, deaths and hospitalizations
The caseload in New Jersey reached 309,588 on Monday, with 3,592 new positive patients. There were also 11 new deaths - 14,960 total confirmed and 1,812 “probable” deaths.
Although 247 people were discharged from hospitals, officials said another 333 patients were admitted for a total of 2,693 hospitalizations.
On Sunday, the same day the governor extended the public health emergency, there were 21 deaths but additional tests are necessary to officially link them to the coronavirus.
The hospital census includes 537 people in critical care and 240 requiring ventilators. The positivity rate stands at 8.65% and the rate of transmission is 1.31.
Federal assistance in 2nd wave
Murphy and Persichilli have sent a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA) Emily Murphy “to implore her” to sign the paperwork needed so that President-Elect Joe Biden and his team may officially begin their national COVID-19 response amid a second wave.
President Donald Trump has yet to concede, citing voter fraud and despite some Republicans urging him to do so.
“The time for politics has passed,” Murphy said. “The time for coming together to save lives is now. There is perhaps no more important area where the transition must get going than where a vaccine is concerned.”
Persichilli said New Jersey expects to receive about 460,000 doses of a vaccine, once they have been approved for dissemination, courtesy of Moderna and Pfizer. By their estimates, Moderna’s first stock of 130,000 doses of vaccine would arrive as early as the third week of December - followed by another 130,000 doses the following week. Meanwhile, 100,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine could be available to New Jersey residents by the end of 2020 - again followed by the same amount two weeks later.
“If we look at all the paid and unpaid workers, health care workers - not only within a hospital but in our communities - it really is about 650,000 individuals. So we have a professional advisory and health equity committee that has met [mostly] twice a week since March and one of their tasks was to put together a prioritization framework that could be followed by all of the vaccine sites,” Persichilli said.
During the briefing, Murphy said that starting Tuesday small businesses are eligible for a total discount of nearly 70% off personal-protective-equipment (PPE) purchases. Learn more at covid19.nj.gov/ppeaccess.
Click here for a list of upcoming free COVID-19 testing opportunities in New Jersey.
Gov. Murphy said barring any last-minute changes, his office will hold virtual gatherings for the remainder of the week.
Watch Monday’s press conference below: