PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — As expected, there has been a large increase in positive coronavirus cases in New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy revealed during his Thursday media briefing that there are 318 new cases, bringing the state-wide total to 742, including nine deaths.

Murphy said the combination of aggressive testing and some community spread is the reason for the spike.

“I will tell you right now as we sit here on March 19, I guess, these numbers I am certain, sooner than later, will go into the many thousands. I want to make sure to folks out there listening today, as we’ve said all along, we expect that to happen,” Murphy said.

Three of the state’s nine deaths have been in Bergen County, including a 30-year-old man. The county alone has about 200 cases of COVID-19.

Additionally, a fourth person from the same family died of coronavirus. The health commissioner says the virus spread rapidly from relative to relative after John Brennan, of Little Ferry, attended a large family gathering. A family spokesperson says it’s a crisis and the public needs to stay home.

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

The governor said the Bergen County Community College drive-thru testing site will be up and running on Friday, and that he will hold his daily press conference there. He added other testing sites around the state are being set up.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said only people showing respiratory illness symptoms — cough, fever, shortness of breath — will be eligible to be tested. Everyone who qualifies must show proof of New Jersey residency.

Web Extra: N.J. Gov. Murphy Holds Daily Coronavirus Media Briefing:

Murphy said effective 8 p.m. all personal care businesses that cannot comply with social distancing guidelines will be closed, including barbershops, hair salons, spas, nail and eyelash salons, tattoo parlors, and social clubs.

“We are aggressive as any American state in the steps that we have taken,” Murphy said, “but we reserve the right to revisit the steps that we have taken, and to at least assess whether we should take further steps.”

Hoa Doan owns Salon La Mode in Millburn. She’s been doing limited business all week, and with the windows covered already, she’s considered closing up. Now, the difficult decision has been made for her.

“To be safe, stay home, but we have to do what we have to do, right? I just feel bad for my clients and my staff who are working here,” she said.

She spent the afternoon shutting down the computer and tidying up the pedicure area. Across the parking lot, her husband handed out deliveries at their family-owned Vietnamese restaurant. They’re doing whatever they can to get through the turbulent time.

Meanwhile, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco rescinded his strict executive orders for the county from earlier this week, including a stricter curfew than anywhere else in the state. While Bergen County seems to be hit hardest right now, he agrees his rules need to be consistent with the governor’s.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text 692692 | Westchester Testing Call 1(888)-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Case Tracker | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

The governor reiterated his concern over young people not heeding the state guidelines about social distancing and praised essential workers for the job they have done to this point.

“To everybody, we deeply appreciate the cooperation we are seeing with our efforts to promote social distancing, and we know it’s not easy to be cooped up in a house. But this is what we all need to do to get through this together, and we will get through this together,” Murphy said. “I repeat especially to our younger residents: we’re seeing that more and more of you are not immune. Everything we say and urge applies to you as well, both for your own health as well as for the potential of your passing on unknowingly, unwittingly, the virus to someone in an older generation.

“I also again tip my hat in particular to everybody who is working on the front lines of our responses. Regardless of the job you do, you’re doing an incredible job. We cannot make it through this without your selfless efforts,” Murphy added.

The governor projects within the next two weeks the state will need 2,000 more hospital beds. On Thursday, he met with the Army Corps of Engineers to devise a plan, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.

Murphy said 55% of the state’s beds are occupied, so health systems like Hackensack Meridian Health have cancelled elective surgeries, increasing capacity by 20%.

“It allows us to redeploy staff, for example, OR nurses that were in surgery settings,” Hackensack Meridian CEO Robert C. Garrett said.

The state is looking at creating space at recently closed hospitals like Inspira Health Network’s location in Woodbury, outside Philadelphia, and is offering housing for nurses at nearby college campuses.

“There could be space from a unit that closed a year or two ago or even longer, from maybe office space,” said Cathleen Bennett, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Associations.

Commissioner Persichilli said newly released preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing insight into how COVID-19 is affecting Americans.

“This data did reinforce that most of the serious outcomes occurred among adults 65 and older, with them having hospitalizations of about 45% and 53% ICU admissions. Eighty percent of the deaths occurred among this population,” Persichilli said.

The commissioner said there have been positive cases identified in six nursing home assisted-living facilities in the state.

“Last night, I ordered curtailing admissions, all admissions, to those facilities,” Persichilli said, adding steps were being taken to screen residents and thoroughly clean each facility.

Among the 318 new cases reported on Thursday, Persichilli said 80 were in hard-hit Bergen County. Ocean (25), Hudson (20), Middlesex (20), Passaic (18), and Essex (17) had the next-highest number of new cases.

Of the eight deaths overall, three were associated with a long-term care facility, Persichilli said.

ELECTIONS

Murphy said an executive order has been signed that will allow electronic candidate petitions. The secretary of state will also be creating an online petition form, through which voters can submit signatures for candidate petitions by the March 30 deadline. Please visit Elections.NJ.gov for more information.

“No one should be out gathering signatures physically,” Murphy said.

In addition, the March 21 special election in Old Bridge Fire District, the March 31 special elections in Atlantic City, West Amwell Township, and all April 21 school elections will be moved to Tuesday, May 12, and will be vote by mail only.

The governor said the June 2 primary elections remain as scheduled, but he will not hesitate to make changes if the coronavirus emergency continues.

Comments (3)
  1. Richard LaVecchia says:

    PLEASE …. Lockdown Bergen County

  2. Carlos says:

    You think anyone is thinking about elections right now? For Christ sake, forget about politics, and figure out how to help us and fast not next month,but now.

  3. Lina says:

    R they waving mortgage payments, credit card payments, overdraft, late fees, like New York? We need more than just talk about this virus. We need financial help. Everyday all we here is about the same thing, but no actions. The virus keeps spreading n the bills keep piling, n blah blah blah from Phil Murphy.

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