TRENTON, NJ – The state’s top health official is calling on residents to roll up their sleeves and give blood with the assurance that coronavirus COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by donating.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichelli also affirmed that the staffs at blood centers are taking precautions to protect donors, including using proper protective equipment, increasing sanitizing and exercising social distancing.
While she stopped short of saying that people are staying away from blood banks because of fear they will contract COVID-19, she did characterize the state’s supply as “becoming increasingly urgent.”
She urged residents to contact Bergen Region Community Blood Center, the New Jersey Blood Service or the American Red Cross to make an appointment – even though the blood would not specifically be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
“The last thing we want to do is add to the crisis by having a depleted blood supply,” Persichelli said. “I know so many of us feel helpless in the face of this particular crisis. So, there is something you can do to help those in need.”
She announced at Sunday afternoon’s teleconference with Gov. Phil Murphy and other cabinet members that there are 590 new COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, including four deaths.
A man in his 90s from Bergen County, a man in his 80s from Passaic, a man in his 70s from Somerset and a woman in her 90s from Middlesex have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
The latest reports put the total number of positive cases in the state at 1,914 and the death toll is now 20.
Murphy said the number of positive cases will continue to climb as the state’s capacity to test increases.
The FEMA-erected drive-through site at Bergen County Community College opened at 8 a.m. today and had to close by 9 a.m. after exhausting its stockpile of tests.
Another testing site will open Monday at 8 a.m. at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.
A testing site has opened at Kean University in Union for the county’s residents, first responders and county workers. It’s available only by appointment and Union County residents must work through their local healthcare provider, Murphy said.
As if the war, to use Murphy’s oft-repeated term, against COVID-19 has taken enough of the governor’s time and state resources, his administration also finds itself fighting two more invisible foes: racism and misinformation.
Murphy said he has heard concerns from the state’s Asian-Americans, a group that census numbers show is the fast-growing racial group in the state. He used the words repugnant and repulsive to categorize reports of “incidents of racism.”
“We didn’t win World War II because we panicked.,” Murphy said. “We won World War II because we started to divide on each other and turn on ourselves. We win wars – and this is a war – we win wars when we stay calm, when we are fact-based, when were realize we’re on family, when we’re proactive, when we are aggressive, when we’re transparent, when we’re straight with each other. We rise and fall as one extraordinary diverse New Jersey family.”
Jared Maples, the state director of Homeland Security, revealed at Saturday’s press conference that there’s a disinformation campaign originating from other countries around COVID-19.
Maples said a text message has recently been sent to thousands in New Jersey and other states.
“We do know that was targeted from a foreign advisory,” he said. “I don’t want to get into specifics of that and get out in front of the federal government, but I can tell you China, Iran and Russia have all contributed publicly to misinformation through official statements. And as far as covert actions, like the text message string, they’re clearly designed to cause disruption and cause confusion and have frankly led to things like hoarding and some of the panic you’re seeking across the country.”
In order to disseminate factual information, the Murphy administration has launched a New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub to provide residents with information about services such as food assistance and small business assistance.