TRENTON, NJ - Using charts that graphically show how social distancing can significantly slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Phil Murphy today continued to vociferously urge New Jerseyans to follow his Executive Orders, saying, that Garden Staters "have always lived our lives punching above our weight" and called on citizens to "crush that curve even further."
At today's daily briefing, where Murphy was joined by State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police, the Governor reported that there are 3,347 new cases of COVID-19 since yesterday, bringing the state's total number of confirmed cases to 16,636. He also reported 37 new deaths since yesterday, bringing the total number of deaths in the state due to the Coronavirus to 198. Said Murphy, "Each life was precious."
"We still need people to stay home," Murphy said. "Stay in unless you need to be out or unless we need you as part of our response."
The Governor praised those complying with the state's strong stance on social distancing designed to diminish the rate of new cases and protect the ability of the healthcare system to address this emergency.
Governor Murphy presented two contrasting charts to show the projected result of social distancing on both the lives of residents and the functionality of healthcare in the state. The first showed a "nightmare scenario" if New Jersey did "absolutely nothing." The first chart shows cases spiking over a short period of time - the projected apex date is April 11- and overwhelm the state's hospitals. The second illustrated the likely outcome as a result of aggressive social distancing, including the prohibition against gatherings and parties. The scenario would play out over a longer period of time, allowing the state's hospital system to accommodate the influx of expected new cases.
While the state moves forward purposefully to add new beds to existing hospitals, Murphy continued to urge New Jerseyans to stay at home and continue social distancing. The state was responsible for addressing the red line on both charts - the one that indicates the number of beds available for treatment. The blue line, which shows the predicted number of people requiring hospitalization, was the responsibility of the citizens of New Jersey to reduce by practicing social distancing, suggested Murphy. He told the citizens of New Jersey, "Take the necessary steps so that you don't wind up on this graph."
The state will open three field hospitals, including one at the Meadowlands and another in Edison, and a third in South Jersey. Murphy was buoyed by the 3,611 responses to his call for retirees with medical experience to volunteer to fight the virus. He also put out another earnest call for volunteers.
Murphy, like all of the nation's governors, continues to reach out to the federal government for support. "Our number one concern is ventilators. Three hundred ventilators from the federal strategic stockpile are on their way to New Jersey. We are grateful, but we will advocate for more." He noted that the state is in need of 2,300 ventilators. "The stimulus bill signed last week was significant," said Murphy, "We need help to understand the rules about how funds are dispersed."
Commissioner Persichilli, amid discussing the concrete needs for beds for acute care, also described a technique called "co-venting," in which two patients could share an adapted ventilator. Co-venting, if shown to be effective, could alleviate some need for acquiring new ventilators, she noted.
Persichilli also talked about the use of closed hospital buildings, college dorms, and hotels as possible hospitals for those suffering lower acuity (less severe cases of the virus) leaving the hospitals as treatment centers for critical cases. She noted that New Jersey was following the CHIME model of information management to make information-based predictions. "We want to be prepared to handle the surge we expect imminently."
Suggesting heavy penalties, Murphy was emphatic about his desire to "tighten the screws" and "raise the price they would pay" on those New Jerseyans who fail to obey his directives against parties and gatherings of large groups. Colonel Callahan described statewide incidents that included a person deliberately coughing on police officers in Harrington Park; a Bat-Mitzvah party in Lakewood in which parents were charged with Child Endangerment; an interrupted Herbalife event in Bridgeton, and an open barbershop in Red Bank.
Murphy also noted some changes to the isolations and restrictions in New Jersey as of today:
- Breweries and micro-breweries in the state can now provide home deliveries
- Auto dealers can conduct online and remote sales
- Firearm retailers are open by appointment only
- Realtors may operate on a one-to-one basis with no open houses.
- Golf courses are closed
As of today, the counties with the greatest numbers of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 are Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Union, and Middlesex Counties.
Murphy concluded, "We are not an average state. This is New Jersey. We are a special place. We can crush the top of that curve. No more knucklehead parties. We have to stay home. We are New Jersey. We can do this. We must do this."
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