Continued Plea for Federal Aid
Gov. Phil Murphy had a one-on-one call with President Trump today where he reinforced the state’s need for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers as well as the need for direct cash assistance to states.
“We still need a slug of support from the federal government. We received a fraction of our ask … we need a lot more,” Murphy said. It is estimated that the northeast region alone will need some $100 billion of aid.
Additionally, Murphy said that the President gave his support for the creation of four pop-up field hospitals in the state, which would help ease the strain on the state’s existing healthcare system and help with capacity as the number of infections continue to rise.
The state has since been in contact with FEMA Region 2 to begin the process of getting the field hospitals up and running.
NJ Ranks No. 2 in Infections in US
New Jersey’s statewide total of positive COVID-19 cases now stands at 2,844, which ranks second in the country behind only New York. After seven additional fatalities were reported overnight, the overall death total in New Jersey from COVID-19 is 27.
State’s Second Public Testing Site Opens in Holmdel
In addition to the testing center at Bergen Community College, which opened last week, a second site opened this morning at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. It will open again tomorrow at 8 a.m. (and subsequently open everyday thereafter) and remain open until it hits capacity. The state is slated to receive 2,500 tests each week.
Murphy said that eventually, the manpower and resources (including valuable PPE) that are dedicated to testing will eventually have to shift to care.
“It is a balance we are going to have to get right,” Murphy said. “The fact of the matter is, in a limited resource world, we are going to have to tilt the machine more toward the care side.”
Need More Workers?
Murphy said that there were more than 8,000 available jobs posted on the state’s website for individuals who may now be looking for work, most notably in “essential” industries that need help such as grocery, manufacturing and distribution. Job listings can be found here: https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov.
Additionally, businesses that are facing staffing shortages were urged to fill out an Intake Form at https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov/intake.
Suspension of Elective Surgeries Starts Friday
Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 109, directing the suspension of all elective surgeries and invasive procedures performed on adults that are scheduled to take place after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 27. The order applies to all medical and dental operations that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of the patient, as determined by the patient’s physician or dentist.
“Given the dramatic shortfall in personal protective equipment we face, it’s imperative that we work with our partners in healthcare to strategically preserve supplies and equipment for emergency purposes only,” Murphy said.
Release of Low-level Offenders
In an effort to lessen the chance of COVID-19 spread in the state’s corrections system, low-level offenders who are serving a county-jail sentence of 364 days or less will be considered for release per a consent order issued last night.
These low-level offenses include, for example, probation, municipal court convictions, fourth degree offenses, or disorderly persons offenses, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
Grewal said that sentences will have to be completed when the “public emergency concludes.”
‘Criminal Consequences’ For Those that Break EO
“If you are a [non-essential business] and you stay open, consider this as your final warning,” Grewal said. “Your actions are against the law in New Jersey and you will be held accountable.”
Grewal extended the warning to individuals, stating that violations of the executive order will come with “criminal consequences.”
“There are a range of charges available to us to ensure compliance,” Grewal said, adding that police chiefs and law enforcement leaders across the state have been given guidance on how to enforce the governor’s orders.
He added that efforts to combat and punish those that participate in price gouging are also being made.
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