New Jersey’s statewide total of positive COVID-19 cases now stands at 427, after 162 new positive test results were reported overnight. Additionally, Gov. Phil Murphy announced two more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities from the virus to five.
Murphy said that the state had a “very constructive” call with its congressional delegation in an effort to bring it up to speed on New Jersey’s situation, as well as ask for more help from the federal government to aid impacted businesses and individuals.
“You can’t do what we have done and not have a dramatic impact on, not just people’s lives, but on the health of the state’s budget and revenues,” Murphy said.
“We talked with the congressional delegation about things like getting flexible block grants as quickly as possible; grants and forgivable loans; Community Development Block Grants and other programs to fund loans and grants; and operating subsidy funds for bus and rail transit,” Murphy added.
He said that aid at the individual level was also addressed, such as lowering eligibility requirements and adding flexibility to various social services.
“Block grants allow us the opportunity to invest resources where they are needed without regulatory restraint,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said.
Oliver commented that the state has existing federal funding available, but that regulations are getting in the way of its widespread distribution. She said the state is in the process of working with regional administrators of various federal departments in an effort to work towards waivers that would add flexibility to the use of such funds.
“We want to broaden the universe of New Jerseyans who are eligible,” Oliver said.
Increasing Hospital Capacity
As was mentioned yesterday, New Jersey also requested the support of the United States military and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist in expanding hospital and intensive care unit capacity.
The letter cites estimates from the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers-Camden that New Jersey could be facing a peak shortfall of anywhere from 123,000 to 313,000 hospital beds, sometime between May and October. It also notes that New Jersey may need an additional 2,000 critical care beds in the next two weeks.
Murphy said there will be a meeting tomorrow in Trenton with the Army Corps of Engineers to examine these plans for expansion.
Amendments to Child Care Subsidy Program
Additionally, Murphy and New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson announced new amendments and resources for the New Jersey’s Child Care Subsidy Program, implementing temporary flexible enrollment policies and robust payment policy amendments to support New Jersey families and providers.
“New Jersey child care providers are a vital part of our response infrastructure to the spread of COVID-19,” Murphy said. “These changes are meant to help those eligible for child care subsidies to attend to their jobs.”
How to Stay in the Loop
In an effort to keep the public informed, NJ 211 has been activated to help handle all COVID-19 related calls from New Jersey residents.
All residents with questions or concerns about COVID-19 and resources available to them can call 2-1-1.
Residents can also text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information.
To receive live text assistance, residents can text their zip code to 898-211.
They can also visit the Department of Health’s website at https://nj.gov/health/coronavirus.
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