Hackensack Meridian Health Doctor Warns Second Wave Could Affect Younger Patients

EDISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey could be facing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

There were 881 new COVID-19 cases confirmed Friday, and hospitalizations increased for the sixth straight day with 666 people admitted in New Jersey. The state also reported six additional deaths.

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In the peak of the pandemic, Hackensack University Medical Center was converting a cafeteria into a COVID unit as hospitals across the tri-state area scrambled to add bed capacity.

Today, things look closer to normal at Hackensack, but after months of flattening the curve, a second wave could be forming in New Jersey.


Statewide, cases are rising. Thursday, New Jersey saw the highest number of new cases since May.

On top of that, more than 600 people are in the hospital with COVID. That’s the most since August.

“We were kind of running 60 or 70 people across our system who had COVID. In the last week, 10 days, that number has doubled,” said Dr. Daniel Varga, chief physician executive for Hackensack Meridian Health.

Varga says as the numbers go up, the patient population has changed since the first time around.

“The first wave unfortunately hit long-term care facilities, the very elderly, people with multiple comorbidities, and those folks got really sick really fast. This looks like it’s going to be a population that is somewhat younger,” he told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.

Those younger patients are less likely to end up on ventilators and less likely to die. Still, the numbers are alarming.

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CBS2’s Nick Caloway talked one-on-one with Gov. Phil Murphy about the spike in cases.

“Governor, do you see this as the second wave approaching?” Caloway asked.

“Listen, Nick, there’s no question the numbers are up … Certainly there are some hot spots, right? So Ocean County, higher education, a couple of other counties, but it’s pretty clear we’re seeing some community spread here,” the governor said.

Murphy says the state is surging testing and contact tracing to those hot spot counties and targeted restrictions could be next.

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“Just on a personal note, have you been telling friends and family to sort of scale back interactions with others as the numbers are ticking up?” Caloway asked.

“Yeah, we have that conversation a lot. We’re gonna dine outside tonight,” Murphy said. “And as the weather gets colder, Nick, we’re going to be more indoors than outdoors, and certainly more indoors than we were over the summer, so yes, the answer is we’ve all got to be really careful of that.”

The state of New Jersey has been stockpiling PPE and ventilators in anticipation of another wave.

What we don’t know is if that wave is approaching or if it has already begun.

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