CAMDEN, NJ — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker praised Cooper University Health Care workers in a video Thursday evening, calling its doctors, nurses, administrators and cleaning staff "light workers amongst the darkness."

Booker's video thanking Cooper for its efforts came hours after New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli announced the Camden hospital would coordinate the response of South Jersey health systems to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

Persichilli said Cooper was selected due to its status as South Jersey's Level 1 trauma-designated hospital.

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"Our expectation is that the need for critical beds is being felt now and prior to what we call the actual surge of all cases requiring hospitalization," said Persichilli. "This will require all hospitals to focus on their plans to increase their critical care bed complement now."

New Jersey, currently with the second-most cases at 6,876 (with 81 deaths) in the country, faces a shortfall of 2,300 ventilators.

Cooper is one of three hospitals chosen to coordinate efforts in the state.

"You are helping us to meet this challenge in a way that helps all of us have more hope," Booker says in the video available here. "Thank you for putting yourself out there. Thank you for risking your own health."

In Camden County, positive cases reached 84 on Thursday as officials continue to urge residents to stay indoors. 

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