Apr 10, 2020
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Coronavirus Briefing April 10
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a coronavirus press conference today, April 10. New Jersey coronavirus deaths are almost at 2,000 now. Read the full transcript with all updates here.
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Governor Phil Murphy: (00:00)
…of which 1,679 were listed in critical or intensive care, and pardon me, 1,663 ventilators were in use. For the 24 hour period ending 10:00 PM last night, a total of 682 residents were discharged. And so that’s an important point to note. You could see up there how many folks are hospitalized, how many of that cohort require intensive care, how many ventilators are in use. And as Judy has said all along, that’s going to bounce around at about one to one, and it is showing up to be that way. And in another piece of evidence that we are at least beginning to see some light here, 682 residents who are discharged, and that’s a big deal.
Governor Phil Murphy: (03:10)
Let’s flip to a map that we’ve been showing you from time to time. This is the county heat map and it measures the amount of days of doubling of cases. And when we first showed this map, it was orange and red. And red would have been the fastest amount of doubling. Orange was a little bit slower, the yellow is slower again. And this is the first day that we have two counties where we are seeing a new color, which means it is more than doubling. It’s doubling rather at least seven days or more.
Governor Phil Murphy: (03:47)
At Salem County in the Southwest where there are certainly cases, Salem has right now a total of 46 positives and 3 fatalities and that’s good news, because that was read just a couple of days ago. So while the case load is small, the curve was steep. That’s encouraging. But even more encouraging is Bergen county in the North East and that’s the other one that’s lightly shaded. And Bergen county has just under 9,000 cases and 390 fatalities. So, that’s where it hit first. And the fact that that’s beginning to show that shade, please God, it continues to and we get other counties that continue to clock over. Those are good early signs. Again, too early to spike any footballs, but those are two important early signs.
Governor Phil Murphy: (04:40)
As we noted yesterday, we may want to go back to the hospitalization numbers. Do you mind, [inaudible 00:00:04:43]. The dashboard polls data as it is reported by hospitals in to the New Jersey Hospital Association. It is just a snapshot, and Judy would want me to remind you of that. This is not a movie, it’s a snapshot of a moment in time. Again, because we are here earlier than usual, there may be overnight changes that are not yet reflective in that data.
Governor Phil Murphy: (05:05)
Now additionally, with the heaviest of hearts, we also know that we have lost another 233 of our fellow residents since yesterday. And that total number now stands at 1,932. Again, 233 precious lives lost, and now a total of 1,932 precious lives lost. Please allow me to just tell a couple of very brief stories about a few of these folks.
Governor Phil Murphy: (05:36)
This picture bringing up folks is Evelyn Sanchez. God bless her. Evelyn and her husband John were partners both in life and in their family owned business, Emergency Pest Control. She is remembered for her tremendous generosity of spirit. She was born in Vineland and called Sparta in Sussex county her home for the past 35 years. She leaves behind her husband, John, president of the Essex County Latino Chamber of Commerce, along with her children, and step children and step grandchildren. I know she will not be forgotten and she was only, and this is my age, 62 years old. God bless you, Evelyn.
Governor Phil Murphy: (06:19)
Sam McGee, there is handsome Sam, was the first African American elected to serve as mayor of Hillside in 1988. He was a member of the Township Committee and also served on the Union County Improvement Authority, among other posts. Adding to his years of public service, was a career as a high school history teacher and 32 years as Dean of admissions at New Jersey City University. We send our condolences and prayers to his family and friends.
Governor Phil Murphy: (06:53)
And there’s also Dr. Francis Molinari of Carney, who was a physician for four decades tending to his own practice in Bellville, serving on the staff of at Clara Maass Hospital at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, as well as working for 30 years for Hudson County prior to his retirement two years ago. To his wife Lorraine, with whom I spoke yesterday, and daughter Andrea and their family, we join you in mourning his loss and praying for his soul.
Governor Phil Murphy: (07:28)
The conversations that I have had with our families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 are not easy, nor is sitting here telling some of their stories easy for any of us. It’s nothing, nothing, nothing compared to what they’re going through. Both the folks who have left us as well as their family and friends. And we have to remember them. We must recognize the tremendous toll this virus is having on our state. And seeing these faces and hearing these names reminds us that behind the stark and impersonal numbers are real people, real human beings, real families. And we all have a role to play in reducing the number of people we lose. We have to keep with social distancing. That is the key to cracking the code, flattening the curve and getting us to a better place. And again, remember, when we flatten the curve of the number of people who are infected, we lower the amount of hospitalizations, the amount of intensive care hospitalizations, and ultimately, fatalities. One thing does lead ultimately directly to the other.
Governor Phil Murphy: (08:39)
This weekend is Easter weekend and I know is one where we are used to gathering together as we do normally at Passover. We gather normally at Easter to worship. We gather for children’s Easter egg hunts, for family meals with friends. We can’t do any of that this year. I feel awful, but we can’t. We have to leave the gathering to FaceTime, or Zoom, or just simple phone calls and texts and emails to our family and friends. Instead of heading to church, many of us will fire up our laptops for a live streamed service.
Governor Phil Murphy: (09:16)
Staying apart this year is the surest way we’ll be able to gather again next Easter and the many Easters to come. So please take this to heart and take this seriously. We all must work together. And if we do, unequivocally, we will come through this stronger as one New Jersey family together. But we each have to do our part. And the 9 million of us need to flatten that curve, stay home, stay away from each other. Again, that leads to fewer infections, fewer hospitalizations, fewer intensive care unit hospitalizations and fewer loved ones who we will lose.
Governor Phil Murphy: (09:55)
And we will, you and me and the rest of the 9 million of us, will manage this front, while our extraordinary heroic healthcare workers and our teams represented by Judy and Ed and Pat and others, will build out our capacity of beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment, medicines and certainly relief from the bullpen for our heroic healthcare workers. We win those two fronts together. Those lines have to cross at a reasonable level. And if we keep it up, if we stay with it on this weekend, this Easter weekend and every day in the near term, near to intermediate term, we will win this together.
Governor Phil Murphy: (10:34)
Switching gears, we know this public health crisis is extended into our prisons. And Commissioner Hicks, and I want to give him a huge shout out, has been attacking it for weeks and we’ll address his efforts in detail in a few minutes in his remarks. The pandemic has touched many of our corrections personnel, just as it has those who are incarcerated. A virus this virulent can spread rapidly in a densely populated prison setting, and the needs of public safety and public health have to be balanced.
Governor Phil Murphy: (11:09)
To that point, I just got off the phone a few minutes before coming here with the widow of Nelson Perdomo. His wife Fanny and I spoke. They’re from Old Bridge. Nelson was only 44 years old. Member of PBA 105. He leaves behind his wife Fanny, their three kids who are 18, 13 and 12. Awful, a guy who’s left as far too soon. [inaudible 00:11:36], even though I’m speaking about him today, because I just connected with his blessed wife, maybe we can have a picture of him tomorrow, if we could. Just to make sure everybody puts a name with a face.
Governor Phil Murphy: (11:46)
I also spoke with my fellow Middletown resident, Bill Sullivan, who was not only a friend of Nelson’s rather, but is the president of PBA 105. To each, to Nelson, his memory, his wife, Fanny, their three kids, to Bill and all their colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers and hearts go out to you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (12:06)
So in that respect, today I am signing an executive order to help preserve this balance between health on the one hand, and public health and public safety on the other. Under this order, certain low risk individuals whose current age or health status puts them at particular risk for COVID-19, who had been perhaps denied parole within the last year, or whose sentences are to expire within the next three months, may be placed, and I say may be, on temporary home confinement, or granted parole if already eligible through an expedited process.
Governor Phil Murphy: (12:49)
And I want to stress that no one convicted of a serious crime such as murder, sexual assault among others, will be eligible for consideration. We are setting up a robust process through which each.
Governor Phil Murphy: (13:03)
We are setting up a robust process through which each potentially eligible individual must be determined to be safe to place on home confinement, and each will be required to have an individualized release plan to ensure they will have access to all necessary services, medical services, and housing. No one who cannot meet these standards will be released. Individuals on home confinement will be subject to Department of Corrections supervision.
Governor Phil Murphy: (13:32)
As I noted, we have dual or twin responsibilities here, protecting those who work in our prisons and those who are incarcerated. Social distancing is extremely hard to accomplish in a prison setting, and allowing some of our most vulnerable individuals who do not pose a public safety threat to temporarily leave prison will protect both their health and the health and safety of the men and women working in our correctional facilities. By the way, we’re not the first to do this. New Jersey will join several other states. Some of the big ones are California and Illinois, and the federal government, by the way, which have taken similar steps.
Governor Phil Murphy: (14:12)
Again, I want to give a big shout-out to Marcus and his team, who have been mightily trying to stay out ahead of this challenge, again, when you’ve got concentrated communities from day one, and this is a big, important step to help to allow them to continue to stay out ahead. I also want to acknowledge the Director of the Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Jared Maples. Deputy Counsel Parimal Garg is in the house with us as well.
Governor Phil Murphy: (14:37)
Quickly onto the subject of testing, a reminder that tomorrow, April 11, Bergen Community College drive-through testing site will be open to the public, and the PNC Bank Arts Center will be open to healthcare workers and first responders only. Both sites will open at 8:00 AM and will be able to conduct 500 tests apiece. Again, to receive a test, you must be symptomatic, and both sites will be closed on Easter Sunday.
Governor Phil Murphy: (15:03)
There are 18 other sites around the state that are publicly available, and you can find a map with all of them by going to covid19.nj.gov/testing. There are dozens more privately operating testing sites that your primary care practitioner could direct you to for a test, if you meet the requirements for testing. When you add up all the sites, I believe, as we said yesterday, it’s at least 57 different sites. To receive a test, you must be exhibiting signs of respiratory illness, and you can take our self-assessment as one of your first steps. Again, on the master website, simply go to covid19.nj.gov/testing. It’s anonymous, and, by the way, not only does it give you some sense of where you may be, but it gives us the information that we need to help identify potential coronavirus hotspots before they flare up. That knowledge is critical for ensuring our healthcare networks have the supplies they will need before they are needed.
Governor Phil Murphy: (16:06)
Speaking of supplies, I want to give a huge thank you out to UNIQLO. You may know UNIQLO is an extraordinary retailer headquartered in Japan, by the way, to give another piece of evidence that we are scouring the globe for help here. UNIQLO yesterday delivered a donation of 100,000 much needed medical-grade masks for our frontline public health and safety responders. This is the essence of what it means to be a good corporate citizen, and we are incredibly appreciative. Thank you, UNIQLO. By the way, if you have any PPE to donate, no matter how much, please let us know by going to covid19.nj.gov/ppedonations.
Governor Phil Murphy: (16:50)
While we’re at it, I also want to give a big shout-out to the Stevens Institute of Technology and my friend President Nariman Farvardin for opening their Jonas Hall dormitory so the folks at Hoboken University Medical Center and the Hoboken Fire Department can have a place to rest and recharge. So thank you to everyone at Stevens for thinking about their Hoboken neighbors.
Governor Phil Murphy: (17:15)
I said we would be brief today, including in the Q and A, so forgive me, because it is Good Friday. But because it is Good Friday, I want to be able to share one more story of some of the good being done around our state. So on this most solemn of Fridays, here’s something, hopefully, that will lift your hearts.
Governor Phil Murphy: (17:32)
Today I want to recognize the members of the Wyckoff Girl Scout Troop 24 in Bergen County. There’s a couple of their members right … There’s a member, rather, on the left, and there’s a healthcare worker on the right. After reading stories of nurses describing the physical discomfort caused by the straps of their face masks, the troop took to producing simple headbands that can be worn under the straps to reduce their discomfort and make life on the job just a little bit better. The troop donated their headbands to the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, and there’s an example of a headband you could see on the right of that picture.
Governor Phil Murphy: (18:11)
So this is how we’re going to get through this. It is both the huge donations of 100,000 masks, and for that, we’re incredibly grateful, but it’s also the little thoughts, like headbands to make those masks less uncomfortable to the professionals who are wearing them day in and day out, for hours upon hours. So UNIQLO, we thank you, and to the members of Wyckoff Girl Scout Troop 24, we thank you. New Jersey thanks you, and I ask each of you to keep tweeting out the stories of your heroes by using the hashtag #NJthanksyou. Everyone who is pitching in to help us through this deserves our thanks.
Governor Phil Murphy: (18:53)
So, too, does everyone out there who’s doing the right thing to help us flatten curve, especially with a major holiday weekend upon us. This cannot be a weekend to think we can let our foot off the gas. We’re not even close, folks. We have to keep with it today, tomorrow, Sunday, and every day until this war is won, and win it, we will. Again, you’re starting to see some glimmers of hope. Look at the amount of people discharged yesterday. Look at that county map. Look at the beginnings of the flattening of that curve of positive tests, and remember, as we’ve said before, with the heaviest of hearts, even though those metrics are beginning to look a little bit more positive, we will still lose many folks in this state, sadly, because the folks we’re announcing, Judy and Ed, today who have lost their lives may have been infected several weeks ago.
Governor Phil Murphy: (19:47)
So we’re now seeing the sad end to some of the realities that hit us weeks before, but stay with it. We will win this unequivocally, if each and every one of us does our part, and we will, from the little things like washing hands with soap and water to bigger things.
Governor Phil Murphy: (20:06)
Stay home, please, period. Social distancing, no matter where you are, including at home, all the way up to the steps that we’re taking today, including, for instance, the executive order that I’m signing today as it relates to our corrections facilities, all of these are pieces in a broader puzzle. As we each continue to drop our pieces of the puzzle in place, eventually, that will be a beautiful tapestry of our one New Jersey family, finally back on its feet, together again, stronger than ever before.
Governor Phil Murphy: (20:41)
With that, please help me welcome the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Judy Persichilli: (20:47)
Thank you, Governor, and good morning. I want to take a moment to thank Commissioner Hicks and all the support he’s given the Department of Health in working to protect the safety not only of his employees, but of the total forensic population and all of our sister agencies. This is really a whole government approach, and they are all vital to the effor. I thank them not only for their support, but for what they’re doing every day.
Judy Persichilli: (21:18)
I want to share some information on our veteran homes. As you know, New Jersey has three veteran homes, and they continue to be impacted as well. Today, the total census in the veterans’ homes in New Jersey is 845. The home in Menlo Park has 16 residents and five staff members who have been confirmed as positive COVID-19. In Menlo Park, there have been four deaths of residents directly related to COVID-19. Right now, 12 of their residents from that facility are hospitalized.
Judy Persichilli: (22:04)
The Paramus home has 29 residents and 17 staff who have tested positive. There have been 13 deaths among those residents that is related to COVID-19, and currently, eight of their residents are hospitalized. The Vineland location has no confirmed cases among their residents or staff. Once more, as a reminder, there’s 845 resident veterans in these homes.
Judy Persichilli: (22:43)
The Department of Health has been working with the veteran homes, and, through our volunteer portal, we’ve been able to support their staffing requirements and have sent 15 registered nurses and seven licensed practical nurses to support care in these homes. Additionally, 35 combat medics have been sent to Menlo Park, and 40 have been sent to the Paramus location.
Judy Persichilli: (23:14)
As the governor mentioned, according to data reported from our hospitals, there are 7,570 hospitalizations, which include the COVID-19 positive individuals and persons under investigation. 1, 679 are considered critical care, and 1,663 are currently on ventilators. Today, we are reporting 3,627 new cases for a total of 54,588 cases in the state.
Judy Persichilli: (23:52)
To date, we have tested 105,611 individuals. 46,676 have returned positive for a percent positivity rate of 44.2%. Sadly, we’re reporting 233 deaths, for a total of 1,932 deaths in the state. Of the total deaths, 58% are male. 42% are female. The age range is holding at about 1% under 30 years of age, 4% between the ages of 30 and 49, 17% between the ages of 50 and 64, and 33%, or 641 individuals, between the ages of 65 and 79, and 45% over 80 years of age, or 866.
Judy Persichilli: (24:59)
64% are identified as white, 20% black or African American, 6% Asian, and less than 1% native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. 48%, at this point, have reported documented underlying conditions, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancer being some of the highest reported underlying diseases. Along with the governor, I want to thank all of you who are staying home. I know it’s especially tough during the religious holidays, when you would normally be congregating for religious services and family gatherings. I understand that while this may be disappointing to many who look forward to spending time visiting with relatives and friends, once again, it is imperative to continue to stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. So stay home. Stay safe.
… Spread of COVID-19 so stay home, stay safe and stay healthy. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (26:07)
Judy, thank you. And thank you for everything. And by the way, I want to thank the Department of Health’s team for getting the data a lot more aggressively and earlier than normal because they’ve got a lot on their plates. So thank you. Judy, did you mention … I apologize because I was just … I’m going to say what I was looking at the second. Did you mention, as part of race, did you mention Hispanic today by chance?
I thought I did, but let me check. I didn’t. It’s not on there.
Governor Phil Murphy: (26:39)
Yeah. So if you ever look at a census report, you sort of have a listing as usual and you have to do sort of a sideways cross racial assessment as it relates to Latino. I just … I don’t know how official this is, but I got my first sense of it was the upper teens.
Governor Phil Murphy: (27:02)
Yeah. That’s where I had as well. And we’re still, again, these are … Would you say this is still early stage-
Governor Phil Murphy: (27:08)
In terms of the racial data. But that looks early stage to be about consistent, and I’m saying this advisedly, with the representation of the Hispanic population as a general matter, but that’s something we want to stay close on. This is the first day we’ve had that insight and the African-American number, again, just to repeat what we’ve said this, I think the entire week is running at least 50% over what the representation … African-American fatalities at least 50% over the representation of the African American community in our broad New Jersey community.
Governor Phil Murphy: (27:47)
Just want to give, again, huge shout out to our veterans. God bless them, including the ones in those three homes in the four to 500,000 I think veterans in our great state, God bless each and every one of them, and the reason I was looking down is I got a note from someone who said, “You guys never talk about postal workers.” And that’s partly because post postal workers are under a federal [inaudible 00:00:28:10], not state [inaudible 00:02:11], but it must be said that postal workers are out there, with diminished ranks as far as I can tell, at least through anecdotal evidence, day in and day out delivering the mail. And so we have to take our hats off to the women and men in the postal service who are doing that in New Jersey and around the country day in and day out. So Judy and Ed, thank you for everything.
Governor Phil Murphy: (28:32)
Top five counties. I just want to make sure I’m just looking at the total cases, continue to be Bergen, Essex, Hudson union and Passaic. But I have to say … Sorry, Middlesex is just clipped in ahead of Passaic. Passaic and Middlesex are about similar numbers in terms of positive cases, and Middlesex we’ve probably said less frequently than we should because it’s always been right there just behind Passaic all week in terms of number of positives, and today due to the overnights has gone just slightly ahead of it. So thank you Judy. And the positives are running, as we said yesterday, at about where they’ve been, right? So it’s about just north of 44% which again is something that we had expected.
Governor Phil Murphy: (29:21)
We could have had Marcus Hicks here any day over the past three or four weeks because he’s been leading proactively, aggressively from the front with one of the most challenging communities in terms of cohabitation and proximity that we have to deal with anywhere in the state. We’ve talked about longterm care facilities a lot. We’ve talked about psychiatric hospitals, homes for the developmentally disabled, and let there be no doubt our corrections community is right up at near the top and Marcus, it’s great to have you today. Would love to get your brief take on some of the steps you’ve already taken and any color you have on the executive order that we’re signing today. And again, it’s great to have you with us.
Marcus Hicks: (30:05)
Thank you, governor. Good morning everyone. Before I begin, I just want to take a opportunity to recognize the brave men and women of the department of corrections, both custody and civilian staff who are working on the front lines every single day, courageously, diligently and behind the scenes to make sure that we’re all living out our mission even through these unprecedented challenges. And governor, I want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to contact [inaudible 00:30:35] officer Pardomo’s wife. I spoke to her as well and also know that Colonel Callahan did to show that solidarity. Certainly a loss to the Department of Corrections and we mourn the loss of our colleague and fellow employee. As the governor alluded to, the health, safety and welfare of our employees and their families and their inmates that are entrusted to us are our top priorities, and we have been in constant communication with the Department of Health.
Marcus Hicks: (31:07)
Thank you Commissioner Persichetti for your leadership and your guidance to us and your staff moving forward. We have taken significant strides to combat this pandemic, and it starts with cleaning and disinfecting efforts, sanitation across the board, from our facilities into all our vehicle fleets. We have mandated that each individual that enters into our facilities undergo health screenings and are required to don surgical masks. Protective masks, as we’re talking about PPE, have been available to our staff since March 13. And as of April 4th, all staff have been mandated to wear surgical masks all of our facilities and our central office headquarters. We have taken a look at all of our quarantine isolated areas and the department ensuring that we have capacity, and staff working in those quarantine and isolation areas are required to wear PPE including surgical and N95 masks, gowns, Tyvec jumpsuits, face shields to name a few.
Marcus Hicks: (32:17)
As far as the inmate population is concerned, any inmate that’s exhibiting respiratory symptoms are also required to wear PPE as well. Unfortunately to date we have 129 of our staff members that have been impacted by this virus. 20 inmates currently in our system have tested positive, and we have one inmate fatality as a result of COVID-19. Per guidance from DOH and CDC, any individuals who have come in contact with the impacted are required to quarantine and we have been following that guidance and continue to follow that guidance as we move forward. We have about 400 inmates right now on medical quarantine, so they are not symptomatic but they are in quarantine status, and as far as our staff is concerned, we have over 1,000 of our employees that are on quarantine status as well.
Marcus Hicks: (33:17)
As the governor mentioned. You can imagine that when you’re running a correctional facility in a correctional setting that there are unique challenges in trying to institute social distancing. However, even with our limitations, we have made significant modifications to reduce the foot traffic in and an out of our facilities and that has been an essential element and our ability to curb the potential introduction of the disease. Now, one of the first things that we did was we suspended our inmate visitation back in March, and we understand how important it is for our population to have those visits. So we instituted alternatives including free additional postage so that they could communicate with their loved ones. We increased the number of phone calls and increase our Jpay emails to enable alternatives to visits. We shut down our volunteer contractors and non-essential vendors from entering into our facilities, and in terms of our workforce, we have instituted work from home flexible and rotational schedules in the Department of Corrections, again, to significantly reduce or eliminate staff that are entering into the facilities where practicable.
Marcus Hicks: (34:36)
For the incarcerated population activities such as recreation, religious gatherings, educations have been modified and when it comes to dining, because, again, following the guidance from DOH, we have eliminated communal dining to the extent that we can. And another thing that we’ve done is that we’ve take a look at our transports in and out of the facility, how we’re transporting inmates, the number of inmates that we are transporting to accommodate social distancing. A couple of other things I wanted to highlight was our intake of county jail inmates into our system. We’ve suspended that, and we did that a few weeks ago. We’ve extended that suspension right now to limit the foot traffic. We’ve suspended all of our community inmate details and we’ve placed a 15 day hold on inmates that enter into our assignment facility to ensure that they are free of COVID related symptoms prior to be transferred to their facilities. We’re also working with external partners such as the New Jersey State Parole Board, and I want to thank Chairman Plumbera who has been a fantastic partner with us to work with parole so that they can conduct their parole board hearings remotely.
Marcus Hicks: (35:59)
It’s not just the population behind the wall that are under our jurisdiction. We have about 2,500 residents that are in the community and our residential community release programs or a halfway houses that we also are working with every day to ensure that they are implementing some of the same measures that we’re doing in our facilities, and that includes health screenings and temperature scans as well. We’re also quarantining them if they have to come back into the facility to ensure that there are not any symptoms of COVID. And on top of that we have suspended our work release programs as well. I can’t stress enough the importance of our medical team and not just of the medical staff at DOC, but also of our contracted vendor, Rutgers University who has been a resourceful partner with us, and from a medical perspective, we’re doing all we can to mitigate the spread of this disease. One of the things that we have done is that we have eliminated the copays from medical exams. We’ve waived them during this time so as not to create a barrier for individuals who may want to seek testing.
Marcus Hicks: (37:19)
We’ve done in-person assessments as needed, we transferred people as needed. Folks that have flu like symptoms are COVID-19 screened. They’re evaluated by a medical staff and directed to the hospital if they have symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and again with the guidance of DOH and CDC, that has been very resourceful for us. Within our department, we have, as I mentioned, resources such as quarantine areas, isolation areas, infirmary isolation bays, as well as negative pressure rooms in some of our facilities which we utilize to keep our population safe. And for those inmates that will be released into the community, we continue to offer a discharge plan through our office of transitional services to ensure that those that are leaving our custody and going into the communities are placed in the best foot as possible. They’re given a health assessment, we’re prioritizing to prioritize the housing needs of homeless individuals, including working with them to ensure that they have access to general assistance and SNAP benefits before they leave our custody.
Marcus Hicks: (38:36)
The governor mentioned the executive order. We believe that this is just another tool for us to help us mitigate this issue. And so under executive order 124, DOC is exerting its authority to grant temporary emergency medical home confinement to our most vulnerable incarcerated individuals who have not committed a serious offense. And again, that’s very important. This is not for individuals that have committed a serious-
That’s very important. This is not for individuals that have committed a serious offense. It is our belief that the home confinement would improve the prospects for an individual’s health by providing this individual plan, to account for their access to necessary services, and that includes medical, as well as housing. The populations that we will be considering are those age 60 and over, those with high risk medical conditions based on CDC and DOH guidance, those presenting high risk for severe illness or death, and those maxing out in three months and those recently considered for parole. Each case will be assessed by an emergency medical home confinement board that will make individualized determinations of whether home confinement would better serve an eligible inmate. At this moment, we don’t have an exact count of how many individuals this will impact as there may be duplication between the categories, but we will be working diligently to generate those lists to get this process started.
Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate our processes and our practices to ensure that we are attacking this issue as best as possible. We will continue to identify modifications that can be made and procedure with one thing in mind, to protect the safety of our staff and inmates and everyone, including the public, in mind. With that, I will turn it back over to the governor.
Governor Phil Murphy: (40:36)
Marcus, thank you for … Even in normal times, I appreciate, and we all appreciate your leadership, but thank you for the steps you’ve taken over the past number of weeks, and thank you for leading the process that will come from the executive order that I signed today, which will, by the way, come to a head to maybe anticipate a question. The process will begin within the next few days, and it’s got a seven-day window to it. We’ll have results to report early the week after next. Marcus, thank you. Pat Callahan, always great to have you with us. I know it’s early in the day for a whole lot of compliance color, but anything you’ve got on that or PPE or other matters. Thank you.
Pat Callahan: (41:20)
Good morning, Governor. Thank you. Just also on behalf of the state police family, Commissioner, that we offer our condolences and mourn and grieve alongside in the loss of Officer Nelson Perdomo.
Pat Callahan: (41:35)
With regards to the overnight, in Pemberton, a subject was stopped, motor vehicle stopped, under the suspicion of selling stolen goods. He was found to be in possession of stolen goods and was turned over to Springfield Police Department where that burglary allegedly took place. In Roselle, police were called to a supermarket because the subject was wearing a mask, yelling at customers, claiming to have coronavirus. By the time the police showed up, he had left, but they had given a description of his vehicle, and the subject was subsequently stopped in a U-Haul truck, found to be in possession of narcotics, and also determined that the truck that he was in was stolen out of Newark. Newark Police Department issued 51 executive office border violations and didn’t have to close any businesses. In Union, an anonymous call resulted in police responding and finding an open billiards hall and charging three subjects within that location. In Trenton, a subject was cited for the executive order violation for failure to disperse. In Union, three subjects were arrested in violation of the executive order and also for burglarizing five vehicles.
Pat Callahan: (42:53)
Since Executive Order 107’s been in effect across the state, there’s been 124 incidents that have risen to the level of an indictable crime beyond compliance, Governor.
Pat Callahan: (43:05)
Just as a quick note, yesterday, we did put out a wind advisory, especially because of all of the tenting that happens out at the sites, and as fate would have it, this morning, the Bergen site, that’s the FEMA-supported one, is temporarily just hold … There’s 40 cars or so in the queue as we speak, and they’re going to try and moderate that situation to make sure those tents are secured and that the people are safe. Beyond that, Governor, as my brother’s a US Postal worker up in Morristown, he’s going to think that I planted that seed in your head, but I didn’t. Thank you for recognizing our men and women of the US Postal Service.
Governor Phil Murphy: (43:45)
It may have been your brother who sent me that text that came in on Tagged. We’ve escaped. I’m going to say this, and we’re going to find out we’re going to get a three-foot blizzard tomorrow, but we’ve escaped the wrath largely of Mother Nature over the time that we’ve been dealing with this. Please, God, it stays that way, although my family reminded me yesterday during our press conference yesterday, a weather advisory came on. We put it out on social media, and it was some rain, but it was mostly wind yesterday and wind today. We’ll keep you posted on that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (44:20)
We’ll start. Martel, you got the mike today? Martel, who’s been with us literally every single day. Before Brian goes, Brian, you’re up, and I’m going to sweep from stage right to stage left, and we’re going to do this. Let’s keep it rolling. Just to say, unless [inaudible 00:44:33] corrects me tomorrow, we’ll be here at one o’clock. We will not be with you on Sunday. We’ll let you know by paper and a virtual release of any data that we’ve gotten. The only exception to that would be if we think there’s something really material, I will personally volunteer to figure out a way to get with you. Otherwise, we’ll see you on Monday. Monday is currently scheduled for 1:00 PM because we don’t have insight into the White House VTC schedule at this point, but if that does come to pass, we may shift our time on Monday, so please bear with us, but, again, tomorrow, 1:00 PM. Thanks, Martel. You’ve been here every single day. Brian, you’re up.
Thank you, Governor, and happy holidays to everybody. For the commissioner, please, health department, several questions, one dealing with the plan to transfer either COVID patients or non-COVID patients. I have a message from one nursing home in Wayne that says, “We were asked to admit 62 COVID-positive from Paramus. We were asked to another 50 from Somerset. I turned them all down because we do not have the staff available to handle this.” How realistic, how practical, in light of that sort of thing, is that plan? On some of these nursing homes, staying on that topic, if I may, Commissioner, many of them, on their Medicare ratings, are low or extremely low, whether it’s health inspections, the overall rating, the staffing. When I went online to the medicare.gov website, below average, much below average. Some of them are as good as average in some ratings. Basically, why are they allowed to operate with these very low scores from the US government?
Then, there’s the issue of whether people who have died and have not been tested. How can you give any closure to people who want to know, well, it was a virus-infested home. The guy in the room next door or the guy in the bed next to me was tested earlier and was positive, and, yet, you’re saying, “While we may have, for example, Military Affairs saying, ’37 people could have died based on statistical model,'” you’re only saying, I think, “13 were tested positive.” What about those who are not tested? The obvious question is since you can’t test the dead, you can’t waste the test kits on the dead, are you trying to develop some sort of historical model as Military Affairs did for all of these homes as to say, “Well, any nursing home might have three people die every month. They had 12. We only know of three positives. We have to assume that six of those were also COVID.”
Governor Phil Murphy: (47:42)
Governor Phil Murphy: (47:42)
That it? Okay. May I just say one thing, Judy? You’re going to get the bulk of this for obvious reasons. We’ve said this from day one, that long-term care facilities have been a particular area of focus, and it continues to be, and Judy will go through some of the answers, Brian, but also any other. She referred to some of the actions yesterday and today that are being taken and have been taken over the past couple of months, but we’re not alone on this front. I just want to say this, that as we compare notes with other states, this is a particular … When we do the national post-mortem and we do the New Jersey post-mortem, long-term care facilities are going to be at or near the top of the list. We’re all sort of going through this really challenging reality together. Judy, with that, please.
Judy Persichilli: (48:30)
I’m going to start at the beginning about the realist … I mean, it’s a great question. Is it a realistic plan? What we’re finding is a realistic plan on Monday becomes not very easy to carry out on Friday when the number of organizations, the number of facilities with at least one COVID-positive case is just increasing exponentially. We’re at the point now where we are going through every 375 of the homes to determine if they can cohort appropriately so their residents would stay in place, cohort appropriately, and also cohort the employees. In other words, manage the movement of employees from the positive wings or floors to the non-positive to try to make sure everyone gets the care they deserve and that we’re not transmitting the disease. It’s becoming a daunting task, but we are continuing it. We do have a number of contracted nursing homes that said they would take all COVID-19. What we’re going to pay attention to first is those that can cohort. We have nursing homes that cannot cohort.
Judy Persichilli: (49:47)
There’s two things we need to do. Make sure they have the PPE to take care of all their patients in the same way, which means considering that everyone is a potential COVID-19, and then we have to make sure they have the staff. We’re looking at the Volunteer Corps as we supported the Veteran Homes to see if we can support those that are extremely stressed, and they’re primarily in the north, and there’s a lot of them.
Judy Persichilli: (50:17)
I don’t want to sugarcoat what’s going on with the nursing homes, but I do want to tell you that we are on it full-time, but it’s going to be very difficult.
How about the Medicare ratings?
Judy Persichilli: (50:31)
Yeah, the Medicare ratings, they look at a variety of indicators. With Medicare, we do inspect those organizations. We go out within 24 hours for any complaint that is considered what they call immediate jeopardy. For those, we are getting complaints right now on specific nursing homes that are considered higher risk, and we are getting PPE for our staff to actually go on site to those nursing homes to determine what is going on, but I do have to say it is not one. There’s a lot that we have concerns about. Covering them all, some of it will have to be remotely because we just don’t have the staff. Our staff, which are licensed, registered nurses, are being deployed into hospitals and testing sites, as well