TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork)Gov. Phil Murphy has given New Jersey State Police orders to take N95 masks, ventilators and other personal protective equipment that health care facilities need in their race to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“While we look forward to these facilities cooperating with us and providing this equipment as needed, this order gives (police) the express authority to requisition it for distribution to our acute care hospitals and other healthcare facilities,” said Murphy in his daily COVID-19 briefing. “And needless to say, they badly need the equipment.”

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The order came as New Jersey saw deaths related to COVID-19 illness jumped 182 in 24-hours to a total of 537. By Thursday, New Jersey had a total of 25,590 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state, reports CBS2’s Cory James.

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Newark University Hospital EKG technician Kim King-Smith is among those now gone. Her family says her smile was “more infectious than the virus that took her life.”

“I constantly balance my response of being cold-blooded with compassion,” Murphy said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Murphy had previously ordered for businesses and individuals to donate unused personal protection equipment by March 27 for future use by hospital workers facing shortages. Executive Order 109 covered any business, non-hospital health care facility or institution of higher learning in possession of “PPE, ventilators, respirators, or anesthesia machines not required for the provision of critical health care services shall undertake an inventory of these supplies.”

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The governor says even police are facing unnecessary obstacles as people claiming to have COVID-19 have allegedly been assaulting officers.

“We are taking a zero-tolerance policy against anyone spitting or coughing on officers,” said Murphy. “They will face aggravated assault charges.”

In terms of counties across New Jersey, Bergen County remains the highest hotspot in both infections and death:

  • Bergen County: 4,099 positive cases (120 deaths)
  • Essex County: 2,617 positive cases (99 deaths)
  • Hudson County: 2,270 positive cases (44 deaths)
  • Union County: 2,010 positive cases (34 deaths)
  • Middlesex County: 1,766 positive cases (48 deaths)
  • Passaic County: 1,750 positive cases (22 deaths)
  • Monmouth County: 1,458 positive cases (38 deaths)
  • Ocean County: 1,371 positive cases (38 deaths)
  • Morris County: 1,082 positive cases (40 deaths)
  • Somerset County: 549 positive cases (17 deaths)
  • Mercer County: 386 positive cases (4 deaths)
  • Camden County: 343 positive cases (6 deaths)
  • Burlington County: 294 positive cases (8 deaths)
  • Sussex County: 179 positive cases (7 deaths)
  • Gloucester County: 169 positive cases (2 deaths)
  • Hunterdon County: 130 positive cases (0 deaths)
  • Warren County: 116 positive cases (3 deaths)
  • Atlantic County: 50 positive cases (1 deaths)
  • Cape May County: 34 positive cases (0 deaths)
  • Cumberland County: 31 positive cases (1 deaths)
  • Salem County: 20 positive cases (1 deaths)

ICUs have been overwhelmed by incoming coronavirus patients, especially in New York City since shortly after the outbreak began.

“We also all certainly hope that (New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick J. Callahan) doesn’t have to use this authority,” said Murphy. “We would hope that folks would step forward and do the right thing but if need be, we will use this authority.”

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

To help alleviate shortages, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey will be donating 500,000 N95 masks and 81,000 face shields throughout April – a $2.3 million contribution to help the growing fight.

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Murphy also issued an executive order allowing blood drives to continue taking collections.