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Number of coronavirus cases, deaths in NJ rises

<p>Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said New Jerseyans should wear face coverings in public, but asked them to use cloth ones in order to preserve medical-grade face masks for public health personnel.&nbsp;</p>

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said New Jerseyans should wear face coverings in public, but asked them to use cloth ones in order to preserve medical-grade face masks for public health personnel. 


Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced 3,733 new positive coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test results today along with 168 new deaths in New Jersey, bringing the state’s totals to 61,850 cases and 2,350 deaths, according to a tweet

As of today, there are 7,604 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with 1,644 ventilators in use, according to the state’s COVID-19 Information Hub.

Yesterday, Murphy held a press conference detailing new measures to combat the virus. He signed an executive order effective Monday at 8 p.m. requiring NJ Transit and private carriers to cut their train, bus, light rail vehicle and paratransit vehicle capacity by 50 percent. Riders using these services will also be required to wear face coverings.

Additionally, New Jerseyans visiting restaurants or bars to pick up take-out orders must wear face coverings while inside. Those using curbside pick-up or delivery services will not be required to cover their faces, Murphy said. Restaurants are also required to provide face coverings and gloves to food service employees.

Murphy said New Jerseyans are encouraged to use cloth masks to preserve supplies for medical employees. 

“A face covering does not mean a medical-grade mask. We need to keep those for our front-line public health and safety responders, and they remain, I might add, in short supply,” he said. “There are any number of ways you can cover your mouth and nose with a bandana or a homemade fabric covering.”

Murphy said he understands this executive order may seem inconvenient, but said New Jerseyans should see that having to bring a face covering when out in public is less of an issue than contracting and spreading COVID-19.

“We all want to be outside doing as we would normally (be) doing at this time of the year,” he said. “Here’s the problem: If we do any or all of the above, we blow our chances of flattening this curve. You probably put yourself or your family members personally at risk, and I can promise you we’d put our health system at risk.” 

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state’s hospital system is preparing for the outbreak’s peak through expanding bed capacity. She said a tiered system is being set up to allow the severely ill to be treated in hospitals and those with minor symptoms or non-COVID-19 ailments to be treated in alternate settings.

Tier One and Two are units in hospitals designed for the most critically ill patients and those who have just left critical care but still require a higher level of care, Persichilli said. Tier Three is designed for patients who require medical-surgical interventions that must stay in the hospital. These patients will be cared for at 1 of 3 hospitals that were previously closed down but reopened by the state during the COVID-19 crisis.

Patients who only need care for 1 to 5 days are considered to be in Tier Four and will be cared for at one of the state’s medical field stations, she said.

Persichilli said Tier Five consists of hotel spaces designed for healthcare workers who need to isolate themselves from their families, and Tier Six consists of residence halls, including some at Rutgers University, designed for asymptomatic individuals or those who need to quarantine but may not have anywhere to stay, such as individuals who are homeless.

Murphy said the growth of positive tests for the past week has grown 10 percent or less each day, which he said shows the curve may be beginning to flatten. He said while this may be good news, it is still an issue that the number is increasing at all.

“We’re not in the end zone yet. We still have a lot of miles ahead of us, a lot of road to travel and a lot of decisions to make,” he said.


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