PARAMUS, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy and his counterparts in three other states are asking Washington for at least $100 billion in cash assistance to, as he put it, “stay at the point of attack” in the fight against coronavirus COVID-19.
Murphy is hoping that by joining in a coordinated effort with Andrew Cuomo of New York, Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, New Jersey’s call for money to cover costs related to the spread of the virus will be amplified.
The four governors have made the request in a letter issued Friday to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The economic infusion would be welcomed in New Jersey, which now has a total of 890 positive COVID-19 cases, including 11 deaths. That includes 155 new positive cases and two more deaths – a 37-year-old man from Essex County and a 52-year-old man from Bergen County.
Murphy held his daily COVID-19 press conference from Bergen County Community College, where a new FEMA-build testing facility opened at 8 a.m.
Although the testing site was supposed to remain open until 4 p.m., it was closed early because of “resource constraints.”
The 600 people who were tested via nasal swab on Friday constituted what Murphy called a Herculean effort.
“The 600 people tested were beyond our wildest dreams,” he said.
The site will be open Saturday morning and will do 350 more tests. A second FEMA testing site – the one at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel – will open Monday at 8 a.m.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said state officials and the Army Corps of Engineers will be looking on Saturday at a former hospital in Plainfield that could come online in four or five weeks and house some 200 beds “for when the surge occurs.”
Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, a 100,000 square-foot facility, has been closed since 2008.
Persichilli also announced the state is shutting down all adult daycare facilities to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The virus’ effect on Bergen County was brought into focus at the press conference, where county executive James Tedesco’s voice cracked with emotion as he revealed that there have been positive cases confirmed in 56 of 70 communities. A Bergen man was among the two new fatalities reported at Friday’s press conference, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in the North Jersey county to four.
Murphy hinted that more measures to increase social distancing would be announced Saturday.
“We have been aggressive in looking for ways to crack the back of this virus,” he said. “Other states give it whatever fancy headlines they want to. We have been as aggressive as any other state and we’re about to get more aggressive.”