Mar 26, 2020
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Coronavirus Briefing March 26
Phil Murphy: (00:02)
Couple of things. We just came from a video conference call with President Trump and Vice President Pence and several members of their cabinet and advisors, Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar, ambassador Debra Birx, who is a special advisor to the White House on the coronavirus reality. I thought it was a productive call among other things. While we’re a big nation and our needs and challenges vary depending on where we are, there’s a lot of commonality when you’re on with governors and you feel some amount of comfort as a result of that. And there’s no question that New Jersey, and not necessarily for all the right reasons, is on the minds of the President and Vice President and their team. Not only did I speak with him, but New Jersey came up a number of different times and you will see why by example as I speak the following.
Phil Murphy: (01:09)
Since we met yesterday, we have received 2,492 new positive coronavirus test results. That pushes our statewide total to 6,876. Again, 2,492 new to a total of 6,876 in total, and Judy would want me to remind everybody that this includes, of the positive tests, 436 that come from our mass testing sites, Bergen Community College and PNC Bank Arts Center. And we have the very sad duty to report that another 19 New Jersians have now lost their lives and have died from Covid-19 related complications, and this brings our total number of lost lives to 81 precious human beings. Every single one of them was an invaluable member, a precious member of our New Jersey family, and we mourn them both individually and as one family. The loss of every single one of these residence is why we all need to do what we’re doing, especially practice social distancing.
Phil Murphy: (02:24)
Coronavirus does not spread on its own. It spreads person to person. The more you stay home, unless we absolutely need you in our response efforts, the slower the spread and the flatter the curve gets. And this isn’t a one day or a two day thing, either. Coronavirus can take up to two weeks, some suggesting possibly longer. I’m practicing without a license there, but at least two weeks to incubate. So it’s going to take several weeks at least for us to begin seeing a real impact from the social distancing measures that we put in place. And remember a couple of things, we have warned folks, we’ve told you these numbers are going up. Sadly, the number of lost lives is going up. Our job is to fight fiercely with unlimited resources to save as many of those lives as possible. But the number that’s really spiking now into the thousands are the positive test results.
Phil Murphy: (03:28)
That’s partly, we’ve said all along, partly due to some amount of community spread and also partly due to the fact that we’ve opened our testing regimes up and down the State dramatically. Weak Wake Park for instance, opened today in Essex County, so that’s an Essex County sponsored testing site. We’ve been telling you over the course of the past couple of weeks, pending test site openings, you’re seeing some of this. And again, the silver lining is the more data we have, the better the experts can manage the virus and also predict where it is that we’re headed. On a related note, I spoke earlier today with a friend, a fellow, a former member, I’m a former member of the diplomatic community, the South Korean ambassador, Ambassador Lee, and we spoke about a couple of things. First, that nation stands as an example of how aggressive social distancing policies can truly help in our getting out ahead and then staying out ahead of coronavirus.
Phil Murphy: (04:32)
I also assured him that the Korean population, which is exploding in New Jersey, especially in places like Bergen County, that that was a community that we hold dear and that we would stand with them even in the face of any bad behavior of blaming one community or another, and I’ll come back to that in a few minutes. It was a productive conversation. So everyone please, please, please, continue to follow our stay at home directive. Please think of others across our State, let alone within your own family whose lives that you depend on doing the smart thing and the right thing. Don’t think that because you feel fine after a few days or even five or six or seven days that it’s safe to resume your previous normal lifestyle. It is not. I’m aware that some school districts, on a separate matter, have already begun advising families as to when they anticipate reopening.
Phil Murphy: (05:32)
Let me be perfectly clear on this. That decision rests with yours truly. We will not be prepared to revisit the closure until at least April 17th at the very earliest. The decision to reopen will be based on careful discussion with our public health and safety experts and with our educators and districts and will be guided by the facts on the ground. Again, we will not revisit this question until at least April 17. I appreciate, believe me, that everyone is anxious to get back. I’ve got four kids who are doing distance learning right now at home, but we will not do this piecemeal. We will do this together. I meant to say this earlier, by the way, but I’ll come back to that in a moment, separately, I’m bouncing around here, forgive me. I have an announcement regarding the testing sites, which I referred to a minute ago, the mass testing sites at Bergen Community College and the PNC Bank Arts Center. On this Saturday, and Pat Callahan will correct me if I get this wrong, March 28th, these sites, both of them, will be accepting symptomatic healthcare workers and first responders, police, fire and EMS only. By the way, check that image out.
Phil Murphy: (06:52)
Unbelievable. That says it all about the health care workers and first responders who are laying it on the line. Again, this Saturday, March 28th both at Bergen Community College as well as at the PNC Bank Arts Center, only symptomatic, symptomatic healthcare workers and first responders, police, fire and EMS. The general public will not be able to access these sites on this Saturday. And then starting on Sunday, March 29th, these sites will move to a new schedule. This new schedule will be posted to our one-stop reference site at covid19.nj.gov, covid19.nj.gov. Each day they are open, these sites will collect 500 samples. Again, we remind just symptomatic people only going. We are taking this extraordinary step to preserve the health and safety of the tremendous women and men working at these sites. And then starting not this Saturday, but the Saturday after, April 4th, and every Saturday to follow, the PNC Bank Arts Center site will be dedicated only to symptomatic healthcare workers and first responders, by the way, with valid credentials only.
Phil Murphy: (08:11)
So let me just step back and make sure everybody got that. This Saturday, the 28th, both Bergen Community College and PNC Bank Arts Center, only symptomatic healthcare workers and first responders. Then beginning next Saturday, April 4th, on every Saturday, PNC Bank Arts Center only will be dedicated to symptomatic healthcare workers and first responders. For the days both in between those Saturdays and after April 4th we’ll go to a new schedule, likely, Pat, on and off I think, fair to say. Monday, one will be open, the other will come back on Tuesday, will go back Wednesday, et cetera. And again, this is a very manpower intensive operation, Judy, and there’s a lot of healthcare workers in addition to state police, County, local police, National Guard, and we have got to preserve our assets and our most precious assets, are our people. I thank both the attorney general, Gurbir Grewal and Colonel Pat Callahan for their efforts to ensure our frontline responders are protected.
Phil Murphy: (09:15)
Separate… Again, we’re bouncing around here. I am pleased to report that my request for a major disaster declaration request to FEMA has been approved by the President, meaning we will now have access to greater essential federal support to help our residents through this emergency. It means we can lift some remaining bureaucratic barriers to assistance as well, and be able to augment our response even more efficiently. And again, this is unrelated to the passage in the Senate and hopefully tomorrow by the House and then signed by the President of the two plus trillion dollar economic package. I spent a considerable amount of time on this one yesterday with Vice President Pence, last night with FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor and others making our case for this declaration, and I thank the administration, the President, the Vice President, especially FEMA for hearing our pleas and responding, and I also want to thank the tremendous work of the team, attorney general Grewal, Colonel Callahan, director Maples, Dan Kelly in my office and their teams in getting this done. Additionally, we have been, for its passage and we are now working around the clock with our federal delegation and our own teams, to get a full accounting of what and how much is in the federal stimulus bill for our state and for our families. As I said yesterday, it’s a very good step in the right direction, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But I also want to reiterate what I said yesterday, we will undoubtedly need more assistance. I’m not going to stop pushing for that in any respect. This bill is but a first step in the right direction, a big step, but a first step, and we will certainly need billions more and I’ll keep working with my fellow governors and our respective delegations. I want to give a particular shout out to our senators, Bob Menendez. He and I just exchanged notes a few minutes ago.
Phil Murphy: (11:25)
He was real time in the cockpit on this one. Cory Booker, I had a particularly important relationship in terms of on the House side with Bonnie Watson Coleman, who is New Jersey’s sole representative on the appropriations committee. I had a good conversation last night with Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. My plea is the more flexibility this bill provides States, particularly for the State stabilization fund, the better off we’re all going to be. Again, I’m going to keep moving around here. I apologize, Judy, I’m keeping your waiting, but these are all important preambles to your presentation. We got a real, not unexpected, but we got a real gut punch this morning as a nation and as a State with a release of the federal unemployment numbers. More than 3.3 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week. In New Jersey, 155, 000 workers filed for unemployment.
Phil Murphy: (12:34)
That’s 16 times the number that filed the week before. This makes federal assistance to backstop our state unemployment system even more critical. It’s also a reason why I signed legislation yesterday to expand our temporary disability insurance and family leave insurance programs to provide more workers with access to paid leave benefits during public health emergencies. I thank Senate President Steve Sweeney and assemblywoman Shavonda Sumpter and their colleagues for leading this change. And as it also pertains to federal support, we are continuing to move aggressively to build out our hospital capacity as we outlined yesterday. And to that, I have continued my push with the federal government for the supplies that we will need from the national strategic stockpile. These are the so-called personal protective equipment, and we reiterated our ask and I’ll give you a couple of data points of what’s on that list, four and a half million N-95 masks and 2,500 ventilators, and frankly everything in between, masks, gowns, gloves, et cetera.
Phil Murphy: (13:52)
Regarding PPE, we have created an online form through which businesses and non-hospital healthcare facilities in possession of PPE not required for the provision of critical healthcare serVices, whereby that form you can submit information about their inventory. Per executive order 109, which I signed on money Monday, this information must be submitted by 5:00 PM tomorrow. That form is available at covid19.nj.gov/ppereport. Again, covid19.nj.gov/ppereport. And I want to give Colonel Callahan a big shout out here, for anyone who has PPE they wish to donate, they can reach out to us at covid19.nj.gov/ppedonations. That’s again, covid19.nj.gov. That’s the basic central repository website. And then you hit /ppedonations, or…
Phil Murphy: (15:03)
Or a website, and then you hit /PPEdonations or PPEdonations@njsp.org. I got that right? How many emails do we have? Do you know?
Speaker 1: (15:10)
Phil Murphy: (15:12)
750. Two days ago I said 350, then it was yesterday, 450 or 500. Today’s 750, and we need it. I’ve also given shouts out to our corporate partners over the past couple of weeks who have really stepped up. L’Oreal, one of the iconic French companies has stepped up in a big way to provide hand sanitizer, which we absolutely need. Again, bouncing around. Forgive me. Earlier today, as a part of our Main Street Stimulus focus, the economic development authority board practiced social distancing and met via conference call to approve an initial $75 million program to help stabilize the many small businesses who are the most vulnerable among our employers to the economic shockwaves from this emergency.
Phil Murphy: (16:07)
Overall, this program will be able to provide direct financial assistance and support for, we believe, between 3,000 and 5,000 small businesses. It bears repeating, the majority of New Jerseyans work for small businesses. This isn’t just about supporting our small and mid business owners, which it is. It’s also about supporting the men and women who work for them. Our recovery begins with our small businesses.
Phil Murphy: (16:37)
In particular, the EDA’s approach is built around a number of pillars in different buckets, and among them they include a $5 million emergency grant program that will provide direct near term cash assistance to the smallest and most vulnerable of our businesses. $10 million in zero interest loans for small and medium size enterprises who need direct financial support. Greater support for private sector lenders. In particular, community based lenders. Direct financial support for entrepreneurs and other early stage firms that cannot access traditional banking resources due to this emergency. These are just a few of the things on the EDA’s list.
Phil Murphy: (17:24)
Any business or organization wanting more information should visit cv.business. nj.gov. CV, as in Coronavirus, business.nj.gov. To all members of our States, I mentioned this a minute ago, our state’s corporate philanthropic and banking communities, I continue to ask for your help in ensuring our small businesses stay on their feet. Not just the equipment and resources that you’ve donated, but to really stand behind and stand firmly with our small businesses. I urge you to reach out to the EDA today for ways that you can be a part of our response, and recovery, and longterm success.
Phil Murphy: (18:08)
I know the EDA under the leadership of CEO, Tim Sullivan, and board chair, Kevin Quinn, will continue to look for ways to bring even more resources to our small business community as this emergency continues. I also thank Joe Kelly and his team in our front office economic development squad for their work in putting this program together. I mentioned this a few times now. The jobs portal created for new Jerseyans whose jobs were cut because of this emergency, but who still want to work and want to join our tremendous frontline response team by working at one of our essential employers remains accessible through our one-stop site, COVID-19.nj.gov. The number of job postings on this site has grown at a pace that I don’t think anyone could have expected.
Phil Murphy: (19:02)
As of today, more than 35,000 job openings are being posted by more than 300 essential employers. 35,000 job openings across 300 employers. Since we put it online Monday, which is only a few days ago, the jobs portal has been accessed by 230,000 job seekers. I again, I urge every resident willing to step up to be a part of our frontline workforce to visit COVID-19.nj.gov to look at the list of available jobs and to apply for one. I encourage essential employers to continue to connect with us through the site to have your openings posted.
Phil Murphy: (19:48)
This shows the very best of New Jersey. We know from the response that tens of thousands of our residents want to keep working, in fact hundreds of thousands, and want to be a part of our response so that our business community is also stepping up in a big way. This is just one example of how we’re going to get through this together and emerge stronger than ever before.
Phil Murphy: (20:10)
Another example is by simply living our New Jersey values, even in this time of social distancing. I cannot say in any stronger possible terms how important it is that we pull through this together as one great diverse New Jersey family. Our diversity is one of, if not our greatest source of strength. Our diversity of cultures and religions is one of our hallmarks as a state. We take enormous pride in that, so I take great offense, as do the overwhelming amount of our residents, when a small group of people do things like going on social media to scape goat others who worship differently or look differently from them for what we’re experiencing right now.
Phil Murphy: (21:02)
In particular, I mentioned earlier, our Asian brothers and sisters especially. I just mentioned earlier in my remarks, our Korean community, which is one of our most cherished, as well as one of the fastest growing. I was on last night with leadership of the Jewish community in this state, and people taking a couple of examples of noncompliant behavior. We had very little of this overnight, Pat, right? One incident we think we had, but a couple of folks who sponsored gatherings in Lakewood in a community that is enormous and the fastest growing community in our state where the overwhelming percentage of folks are doing exactly the right thing, including among its leaders. But folks are using a couple of examples like that to extrapolate and start blaming and vilifying communities. In this case, our Jewish brothers and sisters.
Phil Murphy: (22:03)
By the way, I get the news overnight every day from Germany and a very small minority far right, antisemitic group of folks there are doing the same thing. Vilifying the Jewish community there as well. Regardless of how you worship, regardless of your ethnicity, race, who you love, your gender, we are one family. We rise and fall as one family. That’s a reality in a peaceful time. We’re at war right now. We need each other more than ever before. Any amount of scapegoating, or any other bullying, or vilification of communities, one community to another, is completely, it’s normally completely not only acceptable, it’s even more so today. I repeat, there is a special place in hell for the very small minority that do that.
Phil Murphy: (23:01)
Again, doing that is wrong in a moral and ethical sense, it’s just simply wrong based on any fact basis you could possibly find. Every community in New Jersey is taking its role in this emergency with the utmost seriousness and gravity. I’ve spoken with countless community and faith leaders who continue to tell the people around them that now is no time for business as usual. It’s also no time to panic and it also is a time to come together as never before. We are one family. Period. We will get through this as one family. Our New Jersey values are the glue that holds this family together and it’s what will define our response and our resilience.
Phil Murphy: (23:47)
To everyone in New Jersey, keep doing the things you’re doing to protect this family. I’ll repeat, as I’ve said before, unequivocally, we will get through this. Not unscathed as we’ve already seen with the loss of life, but we will get through this, assuming each one of us, each of the 9 million of us in our family does their part, hangs together, that this is a war and we accept that we win wars when we don’t panic, but we get smart, aggressive, proactive. We don’t turn on each other. We come together, we show courage. We are doing that, we will do that and we will win this war as we have won so many before. Thank you all. With that, please help me welcome the woman who needs no introduction. The commissioner of the department of health, Judy Persichilli.
Judy Persichilli: (24:34)
Thank you governor. Good afternoon everyone. We continue to see our older population and individuals with underlying conditions to be more severely impacted by COVID-19 illness. As I’ve said before, we know our longterm care facilities are particularly at risk because of the populations that they serve. In early March, we held a conference call with these facilities to review important prevention and preparedness activities. In addition, on March 13th, the department required that these facilities restrict visitors and screen all staff for respiratory virus symptoms.
Judy Persichilli: (25:15)
However, we are still seeing more of our longterm facilities being impacted. Right now there are 43 of our 375 longterm care facilities with at least one resident being reported as positive for COVID-19. As you know, the impact of COVID-19 has been severe at St. Joseph’s in Woodbridge. It necessitated the transfer of those residents to another facility. At this time, we have confirmed at least 24 COVID-19 cases among the St. Joseph’s residents, and we have also confirmed that five staff members tested positive as well.
Judy Persichilli: (26:05)
That is out of a total staff, a resident complement of 78. There have been three deaths among those residents. More residents and staff are symptomatic. We made the assumption that residents and staff of St. Joseph’s had all been exposed to COVID-19. Because of this situation, it was vital that immediate public health actions were taken to ensure that the staff and the residents were safe and that the residents got the care that they needed.
Judy Persichilli: (26:43)
I want to thank the New Jersey EMS Task Force and the County who helped with the transfer of those patients. I also want to report that today the New Jersey Department of Corrections has three new confirmed employee cases of COVID-19 involving officers. I reported one yesterday, so now they have a total of four. One impacted officer operates out of central reception and assignment facility, while the other two officers work out of the adult diagnostic treatment center.
Judy Persichilli: (27:20)
The New Jersey Department of Corrections has notified all individuals that came in contact with the impacted employees, and is requiring the contacts to self quarantine for 14 days. The confirmed employees did not come in contact with any of the inmates, and none of the inmates thus far have been tested positive for COVID-19. As the governor mentioned, and unfortunately we’re reporting 2,492 new cases for a total of 6,876 cases in New Jersey. Sadly, new deaths. 19 new deaths have been reported. Three of those deaths were associated with a longterm care facility.
Judy Persichilli: (28:11)
Those fatalities are from the following counties. Four in Essex, three in Bergen, three in Middlesex, two in Burlington, two in Monmouth, two in Morris, one in Ocean, one in Passaic, and one in Somerset. The County breakdown of new cases is as follows. For the cases that we were able to confirm a County, Atlantic has two. Burlington, I’m sorry, Bergen, 357. Burlington, 16. Camden, 13. Cape May, two. Cumberland, one. Essex, 203. Gloucester, 10. Hudson, 158. Hunterdon, 9. Mercer, 28. Middlesex, 183. Monmouth, 179. Morris, 64. Ocean, 144. Passaic, 133. Salem, one. Somerset, 35. Sussex, 20. Union, 147. Warren, 12. We are still collecting more details on 755 cases. Of course, these County amounts will change.
Judy Persichilli: (29:40)
In anticipation of the surge and the need for particularly hospital critical care beds, we are initiating a department of health executive order to name our level one trauma designated hospitals as the coordinating entities for their regions to include surge monitoring, critical care, bed utilization, consultants to the field hospitals …
Judy Persichilli: (30:03)
… utilization, consultants to the field hospitals, and liaison with the Department of Health Advisory Group, that will be headed by Dr. Eddy Breznitz. In a call yesterday with Kevin O’Dowd, the CEO of Cooper University Hospital, Amy Mansue, the senior vice president of Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health System, and Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the CEO of University Hospital, we outlined the responsibilities and the processes for their collaborating roles. We’re encouraging all hospitals and healthcare providers to work together in their regions, to assure that all of the residents of New Jersey that need care get the care that they require. Our expectation is that the need for critical beds is being felt now, and prior to what we would call the actual surge of all cases requiring hospitalization. Since the significantly symptomatic cases, the symptomatic individuals are entering our hospitals at a faster rate. This will require all hospitals to focus on their plans to increase their critical care bed complement now. We’re still struggling, as the governor said, with supplies for PPE, and particularly at this point in time, ventilators. I certainly want to thank Kevin O’Dowd, Amy Mansue and Dr. Elnahal for their willingness to support this effort in their collaborating roles. We all need to continue to work together to reduce the risk of exposure in our state. We know that following the governor’s social distancing measures, it’s a sacrifice. We know it’s a hardship. In this age of social media, we urge you to maintain your sense of community. Stay in touch with one another, reach out to your elderly relatives and reach out to your elderly neighbors. Take care of your pets. You’re doing your part to protect not only your own health, but also to protect the residents of New Jersey and for that we are thankful. Thank you.
Phil Murphy: (32:16)
Judy. Thank you. Negatives. Do you have any… You had begun to give us some negative test relative to positives. Do you happen to have that handy?
Judy Persichilli: (32:28)
Phil Murphy: (32:30)
While you do that, I want to give… I mentioned this on the VTC with the president and the vice president, I was also back and forth this morning with the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi. Happy birthday Speaker Pelosi.
Judy Persichilli: (32:41)
The data from this morning, of the seven laboratories that are sending us their full COVID-19 results, and it represents 90% of total test results that we receive, there were over 19,364 tests performed, of which 6, 137 tested positive for an overall positivity rate of 31.7%.
Phil Murphy: (33:09)
And that’s a little bit higher than it was. It was 27, 29, 31. And in fairness, we’ve talked about, sadly, the death rate. We have certainty, sadly, on the numerator, we don’t have certainty on the denominator. It’s a mistake, I think for folks to just take the total number of precious lives that we’ve lost and divide it by positive tests because we know there are a lot more people who want to get tested. And the denominator is by any measure larger than the number of positive tests we have. So that’s a conclusion that we’re not drawing, and we don’t think you should draw. Is that fair to say?
Judy Persichilli: (33:49)
Phil Murphy: (33:51)
Also I make it my business to just tell you the top five counties and total cases, Bergen continues to be far and away, 1,206, about double Essex, which is 609. Then Middlesex 505. Monmouth 501. Hudson at 441. And in the interest of full disclosure Union is right behind Hudson at 432. I think you said this, but Kevin O’Dowd on behalf of Cooper, Amy Mansue on behalf of RWJ, and Shereef on behalf of University Hospital. That’s the south central north coordinating principal context. Thank you for that.
Phil Murphy: (34:36)
With that, I think we’ll start with some questions. We’ll begin with John and go left, and then sweep back to the right. So hold on. Matt has got the microphone. Please let Matt hold that. He’s featuring a blue glove today.
Thank you. I have a set of questions for my-
Phil Murphy: (34:50)
Sorry. Sorry John. Matt, we need this to be volumed up in the room. I’m not sure if someone can help us with that. Anybody?
We good? All right.
Phil Murphy: (35:02)
There we go. Thank you.
I have a set of questions of my own, and then if I may, some from The Philadelphia Inquirer. What is the Health Department doing right now to track the numbers of nurses who were ill and hospitalized? And we’re hearing horror stories of nurses on ventilators, as well as doctors. To track the numbers of them, to make sure that you’re monitoring staffing levels and keeping hospitals fully functioning? And then with that, if someone in a workplace tests positive, what is in place right now to notify the employees, particularly in healthcare settings? Are there changes? We’re hearing that it’s not level across types of different job and workplace environments. Is there a standard for telling people you’re working with if someone has tested positive? And then-
Phil Murphy: (35:49)
Can you give use the Inquirer questions?
Sure. What specifically is the Department of Health doing right now on developing guidelines for doctors and the use of ventilators if there is a shortage as expected? Who gets them? Who doesn’t? And are there guidelines being developed now for triaging for patients as well? And then, any updated you can get on the status of the numbers of ventilators and coming in from the stockpile? So just on the last point, the most recent ask from us, I think I mentioned this was 2,500 ventilators from the strategic stockpile. That was an updated number along with, I think I said four and a half million and 95 masks. I think most of these, Judy, are going to be in you and Dr. Tan’s neck of the woods. Some please jump in.
Judy Persichilli: (36:36)
Yeah, I want to I want to start with perhaps the most difficult question to answer, and be responsive to. And that is the one, what happens if we don’t have enough ventilators to take care of the patients that we have? We’re working with the Medical Society of New Jersey. Dr. Breznitz is putting together an advisory committee of which they will participate. And one of the items that we will be addressing together are the bioethical considerations of the availability of particularly lifesaving modalities like ventilators. That is, I would have to say, one of the more difficult issues that we will be discussing.
Judy Persichilli: (37:26)
As far as healthcare workers, we keep a tally of the healthcare workers along with the rest of the positive cases. If we are not notified that a healthcare worker is, and we have not been by the way, a healthcare worker is on a ventilator, I don’t have that information. That’s handled locally by the hospitals. We do get notified if there is a healthcare worker that expires as a result of COVID-19. And we get that notification directly from the CEO’s of that hospital. And we were notified early today of one. I have no information on that as yet. It was a part-time worker in the northern part of the state.
Judy Persichilli: (38:24)
And monitoring staffing levels, every hospital puts in a staffing plan. And we monitor that plan on a regular basis during good times. We have waived all of the staffing ratio requirements to allow the hospitals to move their staff where the need is most, where the acuity is the highest. And part of the coordinating responsibilities of the level ones will be to work in concert with all the hospitals in their region, to make sure that the residents of New Jersey get the care they need based on the acuity as it’s presented.
Phil Murphy: (39:13)
You mentioned about modalities, and trade offs, and bioethical considerations, which just sort of haunts you when you hear those words, right? When you hear that sort of notion. Let me just remind everybody, please check out the curve behind us. It’s the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing, to do everything we can to head off that sort of discussion. We have to obviously hope for the best, but plan for the worst. And that’s what I think you’re hearing, but this social distancing, this aggressive set of steps we have taken, unlike frankly, at this point, almost any other American state, it’s not just an abstract exercise. This is literally to keep the curve as flat as possible and below the capacity of the healthcare system, including all the equipment associated with it. And including, by the way, the healthy workforce, God willing, that is associated with it. To head off, to stave off, hopefully forever, but certainly for as long as possible, the sorts of trade offs, the awful trade offs that Judy refers to.
Phil Murphy: (40:26)
If we don’t do this, that red curve, we will live, sadly, we’ll live that reality of those bioethical trade offs, which none of us want to have to go through. We would be remiss, we’d be abrogating our responsibilities to not plan for that and we are, but at the same time, folks, when you’re listening and you’re wondering, “Why am I still at home? Why is my business, non-essential business still shut? Why do I have to keep washing my hands or keep it six feet away from people?” There is a reason and it is a big reason. We want to be on the battlefield saving every single life we can. Keeping the number of folks who are ill to a smaller number as humanly possible. And we can’t do it alone. We need you all to continue doing what you’re doing. Thank you. Dave.
Question for the commissioner, if I may, and then for you governor as well as the colonel. Commissioner, could you give us an update on the efforts, I think that you referred to it, or maybe the governor did, as a call to action for retired nurses to come back, retired doctors, healthcare workers. I know some Rutgers nursing students were going to be helping the local health workers in the different counties, and so forth. If you could give us an update on how those efforts are going and if there’s a concern about hospitals running out of doctors and nurses. And then governor and colonel, if you could just flush out the point, which I think is really important that you stress governor, that we did have a couple of incidents in Lakewood, but this has nothing to do with anybody’s religion, although some idiots may be blaming certain people. And you know the fact that this is not going to be tolerated.
Phil Murphy: (42:17)
Yep. So if it’s okay, let’s start with Judy on the medical corps and the call to arms.
Judy Persichilli: (42:24)
Sure. Yesterday, I think the governor shared with you that at The Rock we have all of our coordinating centralized functions. And individuals from the Department of Health have been redeployed to The Rock. And there’s a group whose primary responsibility is to bring together the staffing agencies, and the staffing corps. I expect by close of business tomorrow you’ll be seeing on social media a lot of advertising and a call to action to start listing by county the volunteers that we are looking for. And that will be all centralized along with PPE at The Rock.
Judy Persichilli: (43:15)
Can I just talk a little bit about ventilators? Because we put in a request for 2,300. We have to about 2,000 critical care beds in New Jersey. We need 2,000 more and we should have ventilators ratio to critical care bed one-to-one. So you can do the math. We have about 2,000 ventilators in inventory. We need 2,300 more and to have some put aside.
[inaudible 00:43:42] Are doctors responding, or nurses responding to this call?
Judy Persichilli: (43:47)
We’re getting a very high… I don’t have the exact number. When we first put out the call through the Nursing Association, it was about 460 nurses within 24 hours had responded. I don’t have the actual number now.
Phil Murphy: (44:02)
So I would love to piggyback off of that. And you’ve heard us talk about the medical corps and the call to arms. The PPE donations at njsp.org, which is exploding. The corporate community that has just stood up at exactly the moment we needed them. And I’m going to add to that list, overwhelmingly, I’m happy to say overwhelmingly compliant behavior. I think we had up and down the state last night, Pat, one incident, and Pat can give you any more color on this. And so I would just say thank you. That wasn’t the case a week ago, and it certainly wasn’t the case two weeks ago, but the key is it’s got to stay this way for a whole number of weeks. I want to remind everybody that we’re not in a sprint here. We’re not going to know by the weekend.
Phil Murphy: (45:03)
… that we’re not in a sprint here. We’re not going to know by the weekend whether or not we won this thing. This is a marathon. Wars take a long time and this is going to be no exception. But for the most part, and we’ve been particularly sensitive to this, the Colonel, the Attorney General, the 21 County Prosecutor’s, assistant prosecutors, Matt Plaque and our General Chief Counsel who’s in the back of the hall. This is something we’re really focused on. And it so happened that a couple of the noncompliant folks happened to be in Lakewood. There’s been two or three examples there. By the way, not shocking given how big Lakewood is and has become, but I was on with Rabbi Kotler last night, a dear friend, and he went through and he basically said, “Listen,” let me just to give you an example of the food delivery that we’ve converted to in the compliance in that community.
Phil Murphy: (45:51)
And as you rightfully point out in your question Dave is, there’s always going to be somebody out there who’s going to connect some dots that have no right being connected and start blaming the whole communities. And the default, sadly, more often than not over the centuries of history has been sooner or later the Jewish community in one form or another gets put into the the sites and that’s what’s happening. Again, it’s a very small number of folks who are just hell bent on blaming somebody.
Phil Murphy: (46:28)
And the good, again, back to the good news is other than for all of our diversity, we are one family and I think that’s incredibly impressive that we rise and fall as one family, particularly given our diversity. But, the more specific good news with your question, and we’re going to monitor this and if we think it slips, you’ll be hearing from us. But the behavior is overwhelmingly compliant. Pat, could you add to that?
Thank you, Governor. And I know I’ve been asked a few times since the emergency, excuse me, the executive orders have been issued and ramped up. Since we started tracking, there’s been 13 total incidents of which resulted in six disorderly persons offenses. Three of those were indictable, and that’s spread across 10 of our 21 counties. And to the point with regards to tolerance, I always say tolerating and sounds like we’re putting up with one another. I think we saw a rise in bias incidents. I know we saw a rise in bias incidents long before this started or at least a few months before this started.
And that was a combination of both, one, they were happening. And two, the amount of messaging we were doing about reporting it. It’s almost similar to our positive tests going up. When you kind of put out that information, so disheartening, and from I know the Attorney General to the Director of Division of Civil Rights, that it will not be tolerated and it will be prosecuted. And that we should certainly, to the Governor’s point, use this as an opportunity really to get together and not tolerate, not one day, not one minute, in this state.
Phil Murphy: (48:14)
It’s an extraordinary, by the way, Jared has Chaired the Interfaith Advisory Council now for years, and that’s got 3,000 something members to it and that’s been a huge weapon. It’s kind of a … and that’s too early to declare victory on the point I’m about to make and this is not related to the virus, it’s way too early to declare victory on that. There is a … it’s kind of an out of body, we’re all staying away from each other. I come in by myself, I leave by myself. Look at the way you’re all sitting. Look at your configurations in your work at home, the companies you work for, the way we separate ourselves, even inside of houses, there’s at the same time an incredible beginning to feel like we’re all coming together and that has an incredible feel to it. And we have to keep that.
Phil Murphy: (49:07)
We have to both be incredibly self disciplined about our own behavior. Everything from washing with soap all the way up to not going out and leaving home unless you have absolutely have to. But, ironically at the same time, we’re sort of coalescing in the lack of noncompliant behavior, which I hope continues. And by the way, it’s not the case all in America. Pat, we’re on with the President a couple of hours ago. Pat hands Judy and me a story out of Kentucky where they’re having Corona parties. Let me just say this unequivocally, anybody has a Corona party in this state, we will crash your party and you will pay a big price for that. And the good news is so far, so good. Thank you, Dan. Back here. I apologize.
Speaker 2: (49:51)
No problems. This is a series of questions for the medical team here. Our viewers are asking if you’re exposed and survive the Coronavirus, can you be reinfected with it later? And then following up on that, one of our viewers specifically is asking, they are experiencing shortness of breath and a cough, but no fever. Are they amongst the group that should be getting tested? At what point should someone consider themselves potentially infected and get tested?
Phil Murphy: (50:22)
Do they have a fever you said or no fever?
Speaker 2: (50:23)
Phil Murphy: (50:24)
Okay. Judy or Christina?
Phil Murphy: (50:29)
I could guarantee you Pat and I aren’t going to have an acceptable answer there.
So for the first question related to if you were infected and the possibility of, I think your question relates to immunity subsequently. Right now we still don’t have a lot of information specific to SARS-CoV-2, that’s the virus that causes COVID-19, but we do have a lot of information on other Corona viruses such as the Coronavirus that causes MERS. Another similar severe respiratory illness that has impacted certain parts of the world. And it is thought that based on the MERS data that there might be some level of immunity that’s conferred onto individuals who are initially infected. But again, we’re still in the process of gathering those data. And with regard to the question about about when should you be concerned about your health and when should you consider getting tested. That’s a decision that you make also in conjunction with your healthcare provider.
We always encourage it. This is always something that we encourage year-round, that if you’re concerned about your health, contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider is going to know the specifics about your own individual state of health. We don’t know specifics about, for example, an individual’s underlying health conditions and such. We do know that there’s community spread here in New Jersey and particularly we’re seeing areas of more intense activity. For example, in Bergen and in Monmouth County. And with that information, we know that individuals who come into communities where there’s a lot of a widespread community transmission that you’re going to be at increased risk for potentially getting infected.
Phil Murphy: (52:22)
If I added to the question and said that the person had shortness of breath, cough and a fever, would that qualify someone for going to the either Bergen Community College or PNC Bank Arts Center to get tested?
Those symptoms are suggestive of COVID-19 illness and certainly would fall within the constellation of symptoms that would get you tested.
Phil Murphy: (52:45)
By the way, this is, again, I’m practicing without a license. We keep a thermometer on the kitchen counter and we just regularly go through and rotate and use it, sterilize it in between a usage. Matt.
Governor, some readers have been asking us this. Governor Cuomo has a 90 day relief for mortgages in New York. Senate President, Steven Sweeney, has asked for a similar measure here in this state. All you’ve announced so far is regarding evictions and foreclosures. The question is what do you think about a similar mortgage relief measure here in New Jersey?
Phil Murphy: (53:21)
What else do you have?
Quite a few. Do you want me to go on?
Phil Murphy: (53:25)
Yeah. Why don’t you through them all. Then we can parse them out, is that okay?
Phil Murphy: (53:28)
Are you asking on behalf of others, by the way, or just-
… this is all us.
Phil Murphy: (53:32)
All you, okay.
Hospital related. A couple things. The New Jersey Hospital Association says it’s provided the Department of Health with hospital occupancy levels. Will you share this information? If not, why not? Also, what is this … Commissioner, do you think all existing hospital resources will be expended before the popup hospitals start receiving cases? And just to clarify, did you say how many healthcare workers have tested positive?
Phil Murphy: (54:08)
Is that it for now?
Phil Murphy: (54:10)
Phil Murphy: (54:11)
I’m going to take the first one and then throw it open to the folks to my right. And obviously, Pat can come in here. The pop-up hospitals, I will say this, the so-called field hospitals are moving along quite a pace, so I’ll let Judy answer in terms of where she sees that relative to capacity. We’re looking very much at a mortgage relief as well as potential renter relief. We’ve been in touch with banks, literally Matt Plaque was with me last night and today, we’re continuing that.
Phil Murphy: (54:43)
I’ll be very surprised if we don’t end up in a good place in this and I would say that’s, by the way, that’s going to be led by the nation. The money center banks that have a national footprint. I can’t promise you when or exactly what it looks like in terms of where we land, but my gut tells me this is going to become more the norm than not. I’d love to think also that we could work with our state chartered banks as part of that as well. And I’m less definitive in terms of the path forward on renters relief, but we are focused on that piece as well. Judy, I think you’ve got the balance of these.
Judy Persichilli: (55:24)
Sure. I get overall occupancy levels. I’ve asked the NJHA to do a survey and feed into us on a regular basis overall occupancy of medical surgical, critical care capacity, and critical care occupancy. 45 of 71 hospitals reported that yesterday. I don’t have it with me. We need 71 hospitals to report and there’s absolutely no reason not to share that. You should know what’s going on, particularly in your County hospitals. I did not say how many healthcare workers tested positive, because I don’t have that information.
Phil Murphy: (56:05)
How about the popups relative to-
Judy Persichilli: (56:07)
… the pop-ups, particularly the one at the Meadowlands will be up before we expect a significant surge, but I do want you to know that we’re very concerned about critical care right now. So there may be beds in the hospital, but we’re really have a critical care crunch right now. So we’ll be working with our hospitals in that regard. But, the pop up-
… but just following up, do you think that currently, and the answer might be that you just don’t know because all 71 hospitals aren’t reporting, but do you think, is there any expectation that our hospitals will exceed their level of what they can care for before the pop-ups?
Judy Persichilli: (56:45)
I hope not. That’s our goal is to get the pop-ups up before that occurs.
Phil Murphy: (56:54)
Only in New Jersey can we call a hospital that has 250 beds a pop-up, right? These things are a feat. Thank you for that. Elise, good afternoon.
Good afternoon. Three questions. Is there any assurance that New Jersey will get its full ask of the ventilators? And when do you expect them to arrive? Any thoughts on extending the tax filing deadline in New Jersey? And regarding the bioethical considerations that you mentioned earlier, do you expect to issue guidelines to hospitals about who gets a vent, who doesn’t get a vent, ranking patients according to comorbidities and age and likelihood of recovery?
Phil Murphy: (57:43)
I’ll jump in on the first two. Judy, you want to take the bioethical piece of this?
Judy Persichilli: (57:47)
Phil Murphy: (57:47)
Is that okay with you?
Judy Persichilli: (57:48)
Phil Murphy: (57:50)
No assurances. So I don’t want to overstate the case, in terms of the ventilators. We are not the only place in the world looking for ventilators right now. And it has been much discussed in the press and by fellow governors and the President himself spoke to this in our video call just now. We’re all out there tripping over each other. So, no assurances. But, God knows we need them and we’re not just relying on the federal stockpile.
Phil Murphy: (58:19)
We’re turning over every stone. Nothing new, Elise, on the tax filing deadline. We will overwhelmingly almost certainly move it. We’re just trying to figure out where to land on that. There are a number of moving parts associated with it. Matt will correct me if he sees this differently, but knowing what’s in the federal bill and knowing that it’s actually been signed into law gives us a little bit firmer footing to look at what the next sort of 30 days look like, and we’ll come back to you on that. And then with that, Judy, can I ask you to again hit the bioethical consideration?
Judy Persichilli: (58:53)
Sure. I mean, first I want to say that we’re doing everything we can to possibly not get into that situation. We’ve surveyed all of our ambulatory surgery centers, who will be stopping their elective procedures. We’ve asked them to not only give us their-
Gadi Schwartz: (59:09)
Hi, everyone. I’m Gadi Schwartz. You are watching NBC News now. Thank you so much for joining us on another day here. As we all try to do our parts in staying isolated in our homes and yet connected to the outside world and connected to one another. There is a lot to cover today as we continue to confront this global pandemic whose effects are now being felt by every single one of us in some way or another, and to help us make sense of it all, we’re going to go now to NBC News correspondent, Alexa Leodo. She is following the very latest on the coronavirus headlines from nbcnews.com. Alexa, can you bring us up to speed?
Alexa Leodo: (59:43)
Sure. Hey, Gadi. Good afternoon. That’s right, more headlines today. First up, some unemployment numbers from NBC News’, Lucy Bailey, a record shattering 3.28 million Americans filed-