Private housing would allow non-acute patients to adhere to CDC isolation guidelines, ease pressure on strained hospital system

PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today led the entire New Jersey congressional delegation in urging the Trump Administration to approve the state’s request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund an individualized housing program the state is seeking to create to provide quarantined sheltering for COVID-19 patients and frontline healthcare workers.

Private living quarters, or non-congregate housing, rather than group settings, would allow individuals and families to safety isolate, thus reducing the exposure and spread of coronavirus, and take pressure off local hospitals.

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New Jersey has the second highest number of cases in the nation, over 47,000, and over 1,500 deaths. The state is not expected to reach its peak until later this month.

“Essential workers on the front line, such as healthcare providers and emergency first responders along with vulnerable populations like those experiencing homelessness, are at high risk of being infected with COVID-19,” the delegation wrote in a letter to President Trump. “Absent a non-congregate sheltering program, these individuals can strain hospital resources essential to saving lives and potentially expose others in their homes and communities to the dangers of this virus. It is essential to establish a non-congregate housing program in our state to make more hospital space available and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

Along with Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pascrell, the letter was cosigned by Sen. Cory Booker (D-D-NJ) and Reps. Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-02), Andy Kim (D-NJ-03), Chris Smith (R-NJ-04), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-07), Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), Donald Payne (D-NJ-10), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12).

Governor Phil Murphy recently requested the non-congregate sheltering program to be reimbursed under FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which supports states and communities recover from a major disaster. Sen. Menendez led the delegation’s support for Gov. Murphy’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, making the state eligible for these additional federal resources to combat the coronavirus.

A copy of the letter to the President can be found here and below.

 

Dear Mr. President:

 We write to urge you to approve Governor Phil Murphy’s request for non-congregate sheltering to be reimbursed under Category B of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program. Non-congregate sheltering is critical to ensure individuals who were exposed to, are symptomatic of, or have tested positive for COVID-19 can comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isolation guidance. Swift approval of our state’s request is an important step in our fight against COVID-19.

Essential workers on the front line, such as healthcare providers and emergency first responders along with vulnerable populations like those experiencing homelessness, are at high risk of being infected with COVID-19. To mitigate the spread and continue to flatten the curve, we need to take aggressive actions to ensure those who are likely infected and contagious can be quarantined. Our hospitals and health care system are stretched to capacity, and the state needs additional resources to maintain effective quarantining for non-hospitalized patients. Absent a non-congregate sheltering program, these individuals can strain hospital resources essential to saving lives and potentially expose others in their homes and communities to the dangers of this virus. It is essential to establish a non-congregate housing program in our state to make more hospital space available and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

 New Jersey has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation and our infection rate has yet to peak. We need additional support from the federal government to reduce the strains on our hospital systems and save lives.

 Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We appreciate your time and consideration of our request.