JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The number of positive cases of coronavirus in New Jersey ballooned overnight by nearly 2,000.
There were 1,982 new positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 8,825, with 27 new deaths for a total of 108.
“We mourn with these families and indeed with the entire state every precious life that has been lost,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.
New Jersey is second in the United States only to New York in number of cases.
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Murphy said he’s authorized a payment of more than $140 million to health care providers “to ready them for COVID-19 expenses,” Murphy said. “We must ensure their viability to meet the challenge this emergency has imposed.”
Murphy emphasized testing should be targeted at people with symptoms.
Murphy said testing the “worried well and the asymptomatic would be an inappropriate use of our testing supplies, an unnecessary stress on our labs and on our health care workers and would not provide us with the critical data we need to get out in front and to stay out in front.”
Two more testing sites opened Friday in Jersey City. One is a walk-up facility at Jersey City Public Safety headquarters, another is a drive-thru site at the former public works complex.
“We know testing is key to fight the virus, so we decided to use city funds to give better resources to Jersey City residents,” Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted. “Our residents deserve the best access to healthcare and testing, and we know these testing sites are an important part of the equation.”
We are initiating 2 testing locations in Jersey City for #JerseyCity residents.
We know testing is key to fight the virus so we decided to use city funds to give better resources to #JerseyCity residents. Our residents deserve the best access to healthcare/testing and we know
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) March 26, 2020
The facilities will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Patients who have been exposed and have symptoms, like fever, dry cough or shortness of breath should call 1-(201)-547-5535 to book an appointment ahead of time.
Proof of Jersey City residence, like an ID or recent utility bill, will be required upon entry.
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Murphy made an impassioned plea.
“If you have medical experience and wish to pitch in to help us get through this medical emergency, please sign up,” he said.
Among those already answering the call is Dr. Anuj Shah, a cardiologist with his own practice, who now spends his days working in the ICU at Christ Hospital in Jersey City.”They’re all working, nobody’s taking any time off, everybody’s picking up extra shifts. They are in the battle zone.”
Shah says personal protective equipment, or PPE, is running low, with N95 masks only used when a patient is sick enough to be intubated.
“You get one mask per provider per day. You take it off, you put it in a brown paper bag and then you reuse it as much as you have to,” Shah said. “The minute a patient gets off a ventilator another patient is ready but there is not enough time to get it cleaned and functional again.”
Doctors and nurses have been forced to get creative to stay safe, like using extra long IVs.
“They are extending the tube size and they are maintaining the pump outside, so they don’t have to keep going in and out,” said Shah.
Hospitals are keeping each patient’s medical team small to limit exposure, but in some cases the virus is not contained.
“We all know by this time that we have a colleague who either died or is on the verge of dying,” Shah said.
“We think we’re probably at mile two or three in a 26-mile marathon,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tucker Woods added.
Officials at Hoboken University Medical Center say they are about five days away from completely running out of supplies. The facility is also near capacity on its ventilators, which are helping the most critical patients.
It’s a nationwide problem that Governor Phil Murphy addressed.
“PPE we desperately need. If you have PPE to donate, please reach out to us,” Murphy said. You can do so by clicking here.
The governor has ordered all businesses and non healthcare facilities to report their inventories of PPE by 5 p.m. Friday.
Murphy also announced an indefinite suspension of all elective surgeries as of Friday night, a move he believes will free up even more equipment and supplies.
The governor said he plans to make an announcement about mortgage relief for NJ residents tomorrow afternoon.