New Jersey has now lost about 100 more residents from the new coronavirus than it did from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Governor Phil Murphy said.
His comments came after reported Covid-19 deaths rose 31% overnight to 846. Positive cases increased by more than 4,300, for a total of 34,124.
The hospital surge that state officials had been expecting mid-April through May is already starting, health commissioner Judith Persichilli said Saturday at a press briefing. The state had more than 4,000 patients in its hospitals as of Friday night, and more than 1,200 on ventilators. Nine hospitals had to divert patients, mostly because of staffing issues, she said.
Murphy’s administration is focused on expanding the number of hospital beds in the state to prepare for the high point of the outbreak. The state is building out new hospital wings, bringing closed medical centers back on line, opening pop-up stations and making plans to use hotels and college dorms near hospitals that are approaching capacity, Murphy said. At this point, the hotels and dorms are being looked at for medical staff.
“We’re adding hospital capacity as quickly as we can,” the governor said.
While a large percentage of cases have been in northern New Jersey, there have been sharp increases in infections in some southern counties, Murphy said. The governor urged residents to adhere to his stay-at-home order.
State officials are giving towns and counties the authority to prohibit all rentals to transient guests or seasonal tenants for the duration of the emergency, including at hotels and motels. Many of New Jersey’s shore towns don’t have the medical capacity to accommodate a surge in part-time residents, the governor said. He urged people to stay at their primary place of residence.
“Social distancing does not work by relocating to the shore,” the governor said in a Twitter post.
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