TRENTON, NJ - Governor Phil Murphy began Thursday's daily press conference with a report of his earlier meeting with President Donald Trump and other officials with ties to the Garden State. Murphy was at the White House to discuss the state's COViD-19 mitigation strategies and the restart of its economy. The governor walked away pleased with what he called a "good and productive conversation" with result that will help the state.
The feds have agreed to supply New Jersey with 550,000 test kits, as well as 750,000 swabs. This allows the state to at least double its testing capacity. Additionally, the federal government has committed to sending 358 nursing homes a direct shipment of PPEs, including masks, gowns and gloves.
As it turns out. Murphy himself had a personal introduction to the five-minute Abbott Laboratories COVID-19 test. The President joked about ensuring the Jersey governor came back negative before they met earlier in the day.
The two exchanged praise for one another, with Murphy expressing gratitude for the feds stepping in to help with ventilators, FEMA testing sites and the Army Corps building. However, Murphy made it clear that the state needs financial assistance to keep firefighters, teachers, police, EMS on the payroll. Murphy estimated the state would need between $20B and $30B.
"We don't see it as a bailout," Murphy said. "We see this as a partnership, doing the right thing in what is the worst healthcare crisis in the history of our nation."
The additional test kits will help in a number of ways. Inmates and employees in New Jersey Correctional Facilities will now be tested. New Jersey Transit Employees are now eligible for testing at the American Dream test site in East Rutherford. There are now 104 testing sites in New Jersey.
Today, the state acknowledged 460 COVID-19 related deaths, which is the most reported in one day. While this brings the statewide death toll to 7,228, some of the fatalities may have occurred in earlier days.
Overall, 118,652 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in New Jersey. However, hospital census reports show signs of encouragement. The number of people hospitalized due to the virus is the lowest since April 2 with 6,137 patients confined to area hospitals. In mid-April, over 8,000 people were hospitalized on two individual days.
Murphy repeated his concerns that opening that reopening the parks and golf courses requires the public to comply with social distancing directives.
As far as schools, the Jersey governor said he has no plans to shorten the 180-day requirement. Remote learning factors into the days. The decision on whether schools will reopen before the end of the year may come sooner than May 15th.