FEMA Staffed major viral testing site to open Monday in Holmdel - Bergen County site opened today and hit capacity in four hours and started turning cars away by 12:00 noon, and 600 tested.

TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is not only going to open a shuttered hospital, but could seek to repurpose closed nursing homes and office spaces under construction to increase the state’s number of critical care beds.

As TAPinto Holmdel first reported; The FEMA-staffed drive-through testing site at Bergen County Community College, which will be capable of conducting up to 2,500 COVID-19 tests a week, is up and running Friday and was full to capacity in four hours (by noon). A similar one being constructed at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, is opening Monday at 8AM, according to the Governor's Office

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At a news conference in Bergen County today, Gov. Phil Murphy announced another 155 people had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to at least 890. There have now been 11 deaths from the virus, including a man in his 30s from North Jersey. 

To meet the expected rise, Judith Persichilli, the acting (22nd) Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health for the State of New Jersey, said hundreds of hospital beds are being brought online. 

She also said she expects Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury to be re-opened and serve as an acute care facility with 300 beds.

“We’ve looked at every closed hospital over the past 10 years but most of them are not able to be brought online,” Persichilli said. “Underwood, being the most recent one, was able to be brought online. We’re also looking empty nursing homes. We’re looking at spaces that are under construction that can be outfitted with medical gases.”

Murphy said that “everything was on the table”: Hospital wings that have been closed because utilization was down, empty nursing homes that could serve as acute treatment centers, college dormitories that could serve as quarantine sites and pop-up facilities such as the ones utilized after Superstorm Sandy.

Murphy and his staff along with Major General Jeffrey Milhorn of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are planning how they may be able to “help build-out plans for expanding New Jersey’s hospital space.”

The state is also taking unusual measures to make sure reopened or re-purposed facilities are staffed.

Persichilli said the state nurses association has put out a call to all nurses with active or inactive licenses, to see if they would assist hospitals across the state.

Also, students from Rutgers Public School of Health will be recruited to help staff local health departments.

Murphy also moved to prop up the state’s economy in the wake of the 15,000 applications for unemployment insurance benefits filed on Monday.

In particular, he said his staff is in the process of getting flexible federal block grants as soon as possible. He said the block grants come with minimal oversights, allowing the state to apply them where most needed.

“They are the fastest singular and best way for us to sure up our finances,” Murphy said.