Against the backdrop of 89 new COVID-19 cases in New Jersey within the past 24 hours (for a statewide total of 267) – and an exponential surge of cases anticipated in the coming weeks – Gov. Murphy today said he placed a request to President Trump for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to potentially construct temporary hospitals here.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli meanwhile said the state is speaking with local hospital CEOs about the possibility of re-opening eight acute care hospitals which had been closed in recent years – in addition to re-opening closed wings of current hospitals.
The second move would yield approximately 185 new negative pressure (airborne infection) rooms in the state, adding to New Jersey’s current total of 700 negative pressure isolation rooms (55% of COVID-19 cases thus far in New Jersey have required hospitalization).
And while some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers did arrive from the national stockpile this weekend, Persichilli said it was a “small fraction” of what was requested – and that hospitals are being surveyed regarding their needs.
Gov. Murphy also said today that he ordered the closure of all indoor “shopping malls, amusement parks, and amusement centers,” as of 8 p.m. tonight, with the exception of restaurants at malls that have side entrances (these establishments can sell take-out-only food orders).
“We also know that the anxiety is high among New Jersey business owners, in particular, among small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy,” Murphy said. “Small businesses employ about 60 percent of the workforce in New Jersey.”
He said that his entire economic team, including the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), is collaborating alongside the U.S. Small Business Administration, and that the state’s full application to the SBA for Disaster Loan Assistance was submitted this morning, and that approval might arrive later today.
Gov. Murphy also urged small business owners to continue paying their employees, because, in effect, the emergency response bill currently in Congress would provide employees with significant sick leave and paid family leave benefits.
“Not paying employees now might keep them from taking advantage of these,” he said.
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