Apr 7, 2020
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 7
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a press briefing on April 7 on coronavirus. He closed most public parks and extended the emergency order for New Jersey. Read the full transcript here.
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Governor Phil Murphy: (00:42)
… work. Thank you. Again, sorry to be a few minutes late. We have a lot of moving parts here. I want to say good afternoon to everybody. Again, our thanks to Rutgers Newark, for allowing us to use their space for today’s briefing. So to Nancy Cantor, and her whole team, a big shout out and a big thanks. Tomorrow morning, we will be in Trenton, at 2:00 PM, at the War Memorial. And so we’ll be trying to give you at least one day’s advance notice as to where you will find us. As is now routine, I am joined by the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of Department of Health, the woman to my right, Judy Persichilli. The guy to my left, another guy who increasingly needs no introduction, the Superintendent of the State Police, Colonel Pat Callahan. And we are also joined, again and I welcome him back, to Pat’s left, by the Department of Health’s Communicable Disease Service Medical Director, Dr. Edward Lifshitz.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:43)
So Doc, good to have you back with us. Before we get to the latest testing results, I’ve got a few announcements and updates on what we’ve been up to. Before I do that, I want to give Sheila Oliver a shout out, who’s running the DCA as fast and furiously as ever before. The Lieutenant Governor and I made a decision, some number of days ago, that we would divide and conquer. I was just on the phone with her with a group of us, a short while ago, and they are doing great work. So to give them a huge shout out. So if for no one else, but for John Mooney, at a minimum. Where are you John?
Governor Phil Murphy: (02:23)
After careful discussion and consideration, with the Department of Education and the Attorney General’s office, we have applied for the available federal waiver to cancel all student standardized testing scheduled for April. We fully expect this waiver to be granted, and counsel’s office is already at work on a subsequent executive order to address the impacts of this decision on other areas of state law, and that will be forthcoming. With students at home, and not in their regular classrooms, it is simply not feasible for us to be able to move forward with testing in any meaningful way. This decision will not impact the graduation requirements of any student. I want to repeat this. This decision will not impact the graduation requirements of any student.
Governor Phil Murphy: (03:13)
The number one priority must be for our students to work on the lessons before them, and to use the time as best as possible to keep up with their current studies. Many parents have moved into a dual role of classroom educator, and it would not be fair for them to also now have to pick up the title of test proctor, as well. I’ve got no other, John, before you ask it, I’ve got no other update, in terms of how much longer school will be out, but it is still until further notice. We have not made any more definitive assessment as to at least until when.
Governor Phil Murphy: (03:49)
Secondly, as was announced last night by State Treasurer Liz Muoio, and she and her team, as usual, are doing a great job. More than $900 million in discretionary budget spending for the current fiscal year has been placed into reserve. We did not make this decision lightly, but right now given the impact this emergency is having on our economy, it is the right decision to protect our state’s fiscal stability. I will go through a series of other offline meetings and engagements that we have had since we last were together with you, but among others on that list, I’ll just move that up to right now.
Governor Phil Murphy: (04:28)
I had a good meeting with the Senate President and Speaker yesterday afternoon. We kept our distance, but we met yesterday afternoon for about an hour in our offices, and we began a process of discussing how we see the budget process unfolding. I’ve got no news for you right now. It so depends on how our federal colleagues turn out today, hopefully today. That’s going to tell us a lot, in terms of the road forward. And speaking of which, I do remain hopeful from the ongoing conversations that I’ve been having with our congressional delegation. Most recently just got off a call with Senator Bob Menendez. Corey Booker just reached out a moment ago with our delegation, with minority leader Chuck Schumer and his team, speaker Pelosi and the White House directly, that a direct cash infusion from Washington to states will soon happen. I’m knocking on wood as I say that. I fully intend to keep burning up the phone lines to Washington to see this through. More on that in a couple of minutes.
Governor Phil Murphy: (05:34)
I cannot stress this enough, that New Jersey and our residents need the assistance. Not just to see us through the current emergency, but to ensure that the vital state programs that will help us emerge on the other end of this will not be compromised. And I know the same goes for my fellow governors and their residents. Before I go on, I want to acknowledge to my right, the Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Jared Maples is with us. Jared, great to have you. Thirdly, following on a very productive conversation with President Trump from yesterday, and again in a minute, I’ll go through some other conversations we’ve been having. We will soon receive a second shipment of sorely needed personal protective equipment, or PPE, from the national stockpile for our frontline medical personnel. Judy, correct me if I’m wrong, or Pat, an additional 200,000 plus N95 masks, and more than 84, 000 respirators, among other gear.
Governor Phil Murphy: (06:35)
As I welcome this development, and believe me, I welcome it and for it, I am extremely grateful. We are still in need of more equipment for our hospitals and responders. I’m extraordinarily grateful to the many private sector partners in general, players in our state. Including some of new Jersey’s legacy companies who have emerged over the past several days with generous PPE equipment donations and other sorely needed meaningful steps. I mean this redefines the phrase of it takes a village. As good as we might be up here, as good as our legislators may be in Trenton or in Washington, even if we bat a thousand, we need help, and we’re getting it. We’re not there yet, by any means.
Governor Phil Murphy: (07:21)
I’ll give you a recent example. A today example. We’ve been informed by PSE and G that it will be making a donation of 50,000 N95 masks. I thank President and CEO, Ralph Izzo and his whole team, and the entire PSE and G family for pitching in to help our New Jersey family. Just to name some other interactions, I was touched an hour or so ago by Tim Cook and Lisa Jackson of Apple. As we all know, New Jersey’s own Lisa Jackson, they’ve offered to send us some gear. Glaxo, Walgreens, have stepped up. We mentioned Prudential yesterday or the day before, Pat. I think that donation has not only come our way, but the gear has been distributed. As far as I know to Saint Barnabas, Holy Name, Hackensack, UMC, and Morristown. Did I get that right?
Governor Phil Murphy: (08:17)
Goldman Sachs, I mentioned yesterday. Verizon continues to stand tall. Comcast, Home Depot, Hard Rock, not necessarily equipment. Bless you. Allowing their employees to have more administrative leave. Wowa upping staff wages during this. The pipe fitters, Local 24, Jim McManus and his team contributing masks. Sherwin Williams contributing mightily masks and gloves. It’s a list that grows by the day. It is deeply felt and deeply appreciated by all of us, especially our health care workers and first responders. And as I mentioned yesterday, Colonel Callahan and the state police are actively engaged in furthering this, and working with the private sector to meet our emergent PPE needs and anyone with supplies to donate at this time. They should email to the New Jersey state police at email@example.com. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I think, Pat, you told me you’ve already received over 350 emails. Again, a great example of the spirit in which the state lives every single day, and certainly at a time of crisis.
Governor Phil Murphy: (09:35)
Next step, the departments of environmental protection and community affairs along with the board of public utility, sent a letter to all municipal water utilities calling on them to voluntarily suspend all water shutoffs during this emergency. Our private utility providers have already voluntarily suspended shutoffs, and we need all water providers to follow suit. I hope I don’t need to say this, but I will say it. I want to be perfectly clear to these utilities. If you do not voluntarily suspend shutoffs, I will order you to suspend shutoffs. No New Jerseyan should fear for losing their access to water throughout this emergency. Water utilities have until tomorrow to confirm with the DEP that they are taking this step. God willing, they all will, and for that we are thankful and appreciative. And if they don’t, we will make them.
Governor Phil Murphy: (10:35)
Next, yesterday I announced the launch of our new jobs portal within our Covid19.nj.gov site. So this is again, within the one central repository of information, Covid19.nj.gov. It’s a site where residents who have lost, within that site, rather, for residents who have lost their jobs due to this emergency, can find and apply for a new job at one of our essential workplaces. And I am proud to say that we are the first state in the United States to do this. The response has been nothing less than overwhelming. In the first 24 hours, the page was visited by more than 88,000 job seekers. And as we continue to be contacted by more and more essential employers, the number of available jobs is increasing. Since yesterday, the number of open jobs, I think I said yesterday, there were about 8,000, that’s gone up to more than 12,000, from more than 100 employers, across a variety of essential areas. Again, I urge every resident willing to step up to be part of our frontline workforce to visit Covid19.nj.gov. Covid19.nj.gov, and apply for a job.
Governor Phil Murphy: (11:54)
I also encourage essential employers looking for workers to connect with us through the site, to have your openings posted there. Certainly, our unemployment insurance system is an important safety net for the many thousands of families being impacted by this public health emergency. But this is an opportunity for frontline work, and to be part of seeing us emerge from this stronger than ever, which we unequivocally will. And for our state’s economy to rebound faster. Again, to find a job, or to post a job. It’s a one stop Covid19.nj.gov.
Governor Phil Murphy: (12:34)
Before we get into test results and lives, sadly lives lost. I want to just briefly, as I mentioned a minute ago, and I apologize, Judy, to go on for another minute here. Just to touch upon a number of other developments, engagements, conversations, followups, that we’ve had since we last gathered. First of all, on the enforcement front, just to prove that there are both knuckleheads out there, on the one hand, and on the other hand we see them, and we’re enforcing behavior. Charges are being brought against a defendant who got into a dispute with an employee of Wegman’s, coughed on the woman, and told her after doing so that he had Coronavirus. He then refused to cooperate with the police to either give them his name or his driver’s license for more than 40 minutes.
Governor Phil Murphy: (13:26)
A summons is being issued for terroristic threats, harassment and obstruction. This is not an EO violation, per se, but it demonstrates active law enforcement, and the steps that we are taking. I want to give Manalapan police department, a shout out, and the Monmouth County prosecutor’s office a shout out. And as Pat knows better than anybody, as Jared knows better than anybody, we are up and down this state, and we will not take any noncompliant behavior, nevermind egregious behavior like this. So, thank you. And again, a shout out, not just to our healthcare workers who are heroes, but also our first responders who are enforcing this unique environment in which we’re living.
Governor Phil Murphy: (14:12)
In addition, I mentioned I had spoken to President Trump yesterday morning, and that was a very productive call. We then had a, shortly after our press gathering, we had a VTC, a video conference call, with the Vice President. We then, last evening, had a productive conference call with the administrator of FEMA, Pete Gaynor, As well as FEMA region two head Tom Von Essen. And those conversations, as was the one with the President, continue to go very well. We mentioned yesterday, that the President gave his support, personally. FEMA reiterated their active support for our field, four field hospitals. Pat, tell us where you expect those locations to be, please.
They’re in route now. We were going to get into this tomorrow, but since the Gov. asked, and he’s my boss, we’re going to have one is going to be at Meadowlands exposition. The second one’s going to be at the convention center in Edison. The third one will be set up at Atlantic city’s convention center. And the fourth one will be housed periodically at our Urban search and rescue facility, with that location to be determined at a later time, once we are able to analyze the best and most effective place to set that up, Gov.
Governor Phil Murphy: (15:41)
… Gracious to me. I went out of order, but tomorrow we will, just to preview tomorrow’s gathering, you’ll be speaking, as well as we would expect Colonel Park, who’s based in Philadelphia, who’s one of the senior members of the Army Corps of Engineers, who’s camping at the rock right now. So thank you for that. So field hospitals were on all of these conversations. PPE, I’ve already referred to. Obviously, the federal our support of the direct cash assistance for States, was on the list of all of these conversations, or at least with the President and Vice President. And then we also raised that we had applied, I believe as of yesterday, for a major disaster declaration under the Stafford Act. And that is under consideration. I want to give a shout out to our delegation, who have stood tall in support of that, just today alone. Senator Menendez, Congressman Gottheimer, and I exchanging both live conversations and notes on that respect, as well as our outstanding 502 F designation under Title 32, as it relates to federal support for the national guard activities. Those are both pending we raised on all of the calls that I mentioned. Again, thirdly, I mentioned already a very good productive early stage discussion with the Senate President Speaker. And again, I want to give a big shout out to the leadership from both sides of the aisle, Minority Leader Bramnick and I had an exchange today. I just sent Minority Leader, Tom Kane, a note on something. And again, a very productive meeting yesterday, late afternoon with [inaudible 00:17:23] I want to give the legislative colleagues, as a group, a big shout out of thanks. And we’re trying to find our way through this together. In real time, in Washington right now, having just gotten off the phone with Senator Menendez and just exchanged notes with Senator Booker, the markets are up today. I suspect because there is the potential for real progress in Washington. And it’s too early to say where this turns out, and where it ends, and where it lands. But as we sit here now, there are big elements in what is being negotiated consistent with what we have believed all along, have been elements of what we believe needs to be a federal assistance program, a big direct stabilization fund, among other elements as we understand it, that are currently on the table.
Governor Phil Murphy: (18:18)
A big direct state stabilization fund, big support for mass transit, unemployment insurance, big support, community development, block grants, big chunk for hospital help, both generally and specific to Covid 19. A big help toward small businesses. So, fingers crossed, if those elements in particular, in large scale, remain parts of what is ultimately agreed upon, voted on, and signed by the President, that’s good news. In the midst of a incredibly challenging world right now, that would be really good news. And I want to give our entire delegation a shout out. Bill Pascrell was on with me yesterday on this. I want to give each and every one of them a shout out, but a particular shout out to Senator Bob Menendez, who has been a particular bulldog.
Governor Phil Murphy: (19:10)
It’s not final yet. I don’t think Sue Fulton at the Motor Vehicle’s Commission has the word, officially. I know President Trump mentioned this last night, but I want to give ourselves a modest pat on the back, because I think we were one of the first states, if not the first state in America to suggest and ask that the real ID timeframe be pushed back. And it looks like it may be headed that way. If that’s the case, that would be a good result. It’s not that we don’t think we need it, we do, but to do this in an orderly fashion, given what we’re dealing with, I think we’d all agree makes sense. It’s not part of governments, so I want to make sure everyone knows and hears me saying that. It’s a 501(c)(3), but I want to give a shout out to the first lady, and everybody, both the Board of Directors, as well as the New Jersey icons who have stepped up and launched the New Jersey pandemic relief fund.
Governor Phil Murphy: (20:05)
It was kicked off this morning, with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, John Stewart, Charlie Puth, Danny DeVito, Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, and others. That’s pretty good company. New Jersey, pound for pound. I’ll put our talent and iconic figures up against any other American state. Again, it’s not part of government, so I can’t promote it, but I will acknowledge it, just as I’ve acknowledged so many of the other private sector players and unions. No other state can pull that group together, as I just mentioned, on a moment’s notice. The board of directors, again, with the likes of Ray Chambers, and [inaudible 00:20:49] Wells, and others, who have consistently been there for the state of New Jersey, across both sides of the aisle, putting America and New Jersey first. There’s no other state in America that can come close. So bless them, and bless everybody in the broader village, who are helping us out at this time of of great need.
Governor Phil Murphy: (21:09)
Now to test results. This is a sobering report, generally from me, and Judy will give you the details. We are reporting today an additional 846 residents testing positive, bringing the statewide total to 3,675. Again, 846 new. Judy, I believe that’s right. To a total of 3,675. I believe that means New Jersey is the number two state in the nation, but I would also remind everybody that we have been aggressive, and particularly of late, in our testing regime. But that is a fact. We have also learned with a heavy, heavy heart, of an additional 17 Covid 19 related deaths. God rest each of their souls. We joined their families in mourning these extraordinary lives. This is by far our largest single day report of new deaths, so it was with a particularly heavy heart that we report this today. We have now lost 44 fellow new Jerseyans. And if anyone is looking to me for a reason to justify the steps that I and we have ordered, I can now give you 44 of those reasons.
Governor Phil Murphy: (22:25)
Again, as we have been saying for the past many days, we have been fully expecting the number of positive cases to increase dramatically, as our specimen collection capabilities increase, and in particular, as the private sector lab companies have increased their scale and ability to process these tests. These numbers are vital. While they are sobering, on the one hand, these positive test case results, they are also vital data that we need to make the best decisions to flatten the curve, and stay out ahead as best we can, of this outbreak. Our FEMA partnered testing sites remain open daily and more county sites are opening up. So again, the FEMA partnered test sites are the two. One at Bergen Community College, which opened on Friday, the second at PNC Arts Bank Arts Center, which opened yesterday.
Governor Phil Murphy: (23:21)
I would like to note that Passaic County, will be opening a testing site tomorrow, for county residents. So this is similar to what Union county has done. At William Patterson University in Wayne. This site is open only to Passaic County residents, and you must have a doctor’s referral for testing. So if you believe you may require a test, please call your healthcare practitioner. And again, please only seek a test if you have symptoms. We just do not have the capacity or capability to test the so-called worried well. We understand why folks might be worried. The anxiety we’ve talked about it-
Governor Phil Murphy: (24:03)
We understand why folks might be worried. The anxiety, we’ve talked about it almost every time we’ve been together. We get that. We understand it. But if you don’t have symptoms, please allow the folks who do have symptoms to get into these testing opportunities first. As this new site in Passaic and other new sites come online and more specimens are tested and then processed, again, we fully expect that the numbers of positive tests, total tests in fact, will go up dramatically into the many, many thousands as we’ve been predicting.
Governor Phil Murphy: (24:34)
Judy has a little bit of a window today on the non-positive tests, and I will let her go through that, but that’s something that folks have been rightfully asking for. “I get the positives, but what’s the universe look like?” We have an imperfect, I think it’s fair to say, but imperfect first window into at least what that may look like.
Governor Phil Murphy: (24:54)
Let me also say this. We can’t flip a light switch here. If we could, we would, and we would have done it a long time ago. It takes time for us to see the impacts of social distancing, so while we cannot wait to see the numbers plateau and eventually decrease, we do not know when that will be, and we will continue to take every step possible to ensure social distancing.
Governor Phil Murphy: (25:19)
We’re having a meeting after this session later today, our first real deep discussion about modeling and where this is headed. I urge everybody, again, to not be alarmed by the numbers of positive tests. The more we have the facts, the more we can make fully-informed decisions as opposed to just educated guesses. Again, yes, the number of positives is big. It’s getting bigger. It will continue to do so over the coming days, but again, they are critical knowing that data, and again, we’ve got our first window into the broader non-positive data. Getting our arms around that is going to be critical to winning this public health a battle.
Governor Phil Murphy: (26:03)
Again, I urge everybody, and I know there’s impatience, if I could ask you for several things, one, some patience. We get it. We understand your anxiety. We understand what it’s like being cooped up at home, but we need you to continue to stay at home and do the basic stuff, wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds.
Governor Phil Murphy: (26:29)
If you do go out of your home, practice both safe respiratory hygiene and social distancing. Frankly, if you’re in your home exercise, social distancing. I cannot stress to you enough need for social distancing. We know, by the way, just think about this, we know that it takes up to two weeks for people to show signs of the illness, so new cases today could still mean new cases two weeks from now and so on and so on, unless, and this is the important point, we all act today to slow its spread. We’re doing everything we can. We have the chart today?
Speaker 1: (27:06)
Yes, we [inaudible 00:27:06].
Governor Phil Murphy: (27:06)
We do. Again, I want to remind everybody, we’re doing everything we can to lessen the amount of sick people and fatalities. Literally, we’re spending 24 hours, seven days a week on that, but even if we have the same number of people who get infected and we fail in our efforts to lower the number, and we will not fail by the way, but even if we do, I remind everybody the volume under each of those curves is the same, but the red curve wreaks havoc. The blue curve allows the healthcare system to be able to digest the same amount of cases, but in a more manageable period of time.
Governor Phil Murphy: (27:46)
Again, from day one, we’ve had two choices, two stark choices, and we have clearly gone all-in on choice number two. Choice number one is to let the virus run its course along that red curve with enormous amounts of infections and meaningfully larger amount of fatalities and economic havoc, or on the other hand, rip the economic bandaid off, take the pain up front, shut the place down to all to leaving only essential activity up and running, and by doing so, meaningfully lower the amount of fatalities and folks who are sick.
Governor Phil Murphy: (28:26)
As you can see from the numbers we’re reporting today, we sadly cannot bring that fatality number to zero. We’re already 44 precious lives lost in our state. We’ll do everything we can to keep a hold of that, but that number sadly will go up. The positive test results, again, will go up. It is partly because of community spread and a big dose because we’re testing a lot more folks. Again, the silver lining is the more we understand the data, the better we will be equipped to deal with that data and get out ahead of this.
Governor Phil Murphy: (28:58)
Before I turn it to Judy, and by the way I think in terms of formal remarks, it’s just Judy and me today. Pat and Dr. Lifshitz will weigh in as needed and as appropriate. I hope that’s okay, but you won’t be bashful if there’s something you want to get off your chest, I know.
Governor Phil Murphy: (29:13)
Unrelated to this, we are hearing too many reports of some non-retail businesses which are violating both in fact and in spirit the order requiring 100% work-from-home with limited exceptions. Some businesses have gone so far as to deem all of their employees essential, to force them to report to work. Others are simply refusing flat out to follow the order.
Governor Phil Murphy: (29:40)
Let me be clear if I could. My executive order is not a polite suggestion. It is an order. No one, and I mean no one who can either do their job from home should be going to work in an office. We must have 100% compliance. This about public health, and it’s about people’s lives, your employees lives, their family’s lives, and your life. Inquiries about failures to comply should be directed at the following phone number.
Governor Phil Murphy: (30:09)
Again, if you’re working in a… We’ve gotten a few of these, I’ve got a couple of directly to me where the firm is not complying with what we’re asking them to do. Here’s the number you call 609-963-6817. 609-963-6817.
Governor Phil Murphy: (30:28)
Again, before I turn things over to Judy, I want to thank again to the overwhelming amount of New Jerseyans who are helping us by using common sense and by being a role model for others. We know it’s not easy on you, it’s not easy on your families, and frankly, I can assure you it’s not easy on any of us or any of our families. This is truly and in every sense of the word an unprecedented time for our state, but we are unequivocally going to get through this, and we’re going to get through this together as one New Jersey family stronger than ever before. With that, please help me welcome the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Judy Persichilli: (31:09)
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. Well, as the Governor stated, the number of cases of COVID-19 in our state continues to rise, and they continue to rise quickly. As of 8:00 a.m. this morning, New Jersey now has the second highest number of cases in the nation. With the ongoing spread of COVID-19, I am once again emphasizing that social distancing is vital to slow this process. We’ve seen in other countries, such as China and South Korea, that taking aggressive actions can flatten the curve and decrease the number of new cases. Strict enforcement of these initiatives have led to dramatic decreases in these countries.
Judy Persichilli: (31:57)
In South Korea, they viewed social distancing as the main effort of mass protection. Their residents stayed home because they recognized it was the right thing to do to protect their communities. Due to the relatively high transmissibility of the virus, the impact of social distancing on the peak of the epidemic and the potential delay of the peak is likely to depend on the early measures that the Governor has put in place. According to the study by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s exactly what you must do.
Judy Persichilli: (32:35)
This reinforces our stance that these types of aggressive social distancing initiatives can have similar effects in New Jersey. We don’t expect to prevent every single case, but we are trying to limit or to spread out the number of new cases. Similar to what has been seen across the US, we are seeing a significant amount of cases under the age of 65. About 35% of our cases are between the ages of 30 and 49, and approximately 24% of those individuals have been hospitalized. This is just a reminder to younger individuals that they are not immune from COVID-19. They also need to take steps to reduce their risk of exposure.
Judy Persichilli: (33:26)
As always, and as I’ve stated previously, we continue to remain concerned about our most vulnerable populations, and we’re working regularly with our partners in nursing homes and other longterm care facilities to try to minimize the impact that this virus can have on our elderly. As of this morning, we have had at least one confirmed case in 19 of our longterm care facilities. This causes us concern.
Judy Persichilli: (33:58)
Many of the nursing homes with confirmed cases are in the same counties where we have large numbers of cases generally, such as Essex, Mammoth, Bergen, Middlesex, and Maurice. We know that as cases continue to rise, our hospitals will be caring for patients with COVID-19. The department is modeling for this anticipated need in order to have the bed capacity required to give these patients the care they deserve. We expect to have more to say on this modeling later in this week.
Judy Persichilli: (34:36)
As the Governor said, we are sad to report that we’ve had 17 new deaths for a total of 44 deaths in our state. There were five new deaths in Bergen County alone, three in Maurice County, three in Essex County, two in Hudson and one each in Monmouth, Camden, Passaic, and Union counties. Nine of our total deaths are associated with longterm care facilities. We continue to monitor the patients with positive results in all of our longterm care facilities. These are our most vulnerable population.
Judy Persichilli: (35:17)
Today, we are working with the leadership of the St. Joe’s facility in Woodbridge to assist them in the movement of their residents to another facility. This may result unfortunately and ultimately in the closure of that facility, a facility that has cared for the most vulnerable population in Woodbridge and the surrounding area for decades. This is the result of some of their employees home ill with influenza-like illnesses, and they have a number of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, we’ve been monitoring the organization since Friday evening, and we are working with the sisters that own and take care of the residents for an orderly transition.
Judy Persichilli: (36:19)
Today, we are also announcing 846 new cases for a total of cases over 3,600. The county breakdown of the new cases is as follows: Bergen, 61; Burlington, 7; Camden, 16; Cape May, 1; Cumberland, 1; Essex, 63; Gloucester, 6; Hudson, 38… 107… Mercer, 8; Middlesex, 62; Monmouth, 53; Morris, 28; Ocean, 36; Passaic, 63; Somerset, 31; Sussex, 3; Union, 43; Warren, 3. We are still gathering more details on these cases and 316 additional cases.
Judy Persichilli: (37:17)
We’ve been asked questions about a more detailed analysis of test results, particularly regarding the positivity rate of the tests, meaning the percentage of lab results that are positive compared to the total number of lab tests performed. According to the data that we’ve collected this morning of seven laboratories that are sending us COVID-19 results, there were more than 12,000 tests performed on residents of New Jersey, of which approximately 3,600 have tested positive. The overall positivity rate is 27%. That’s a really important rate. It tells us how many tests were we’ve performed and how many have tested positive. That will help us in our predictive modeling of the type of care that these individuals require.
Judy Persichilli: (38:15)
It also means that the majority of the results have been negative, but we remind people who test negative and have symptoms that it’s important for them to stay still stay at home while you are sick because it might mean that you’ve been infected with another respiratory virus. We’re working around the clock, and our public health and emergency preparedness response teams are coordinated throughout government as well as the healthcare sector and other public health partners to respond to the needs of the residents of New Jersey. We will get through this, but we have to work together. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (38:56)
Judy, thank you. May I ask you, or just come in behind you in a couple of questions? We’ve had positives in 19 long longterm care facilities in the state. Just for the folks watching. I believe the denominator in terms of the number of longterm care facilities in the state is 375. Does that sound right?
Judy Persichilli: (39:17)
Governor Phil Murphy: (39:17)
Okay, so that’s about 5% of the-
Judy Persichilli: (39:19)
Governor Phil Murphy: (39:20)
… of the total. Secondly, is it fair to say, and Dr. Lifshitz, I’d love you to disagree with me here, getting the negatives for the first time, a window on the negatives in addition to the pure math by definition, thanks to the bully pulpit that we have all exercised and the rules of the road, the overwhelming amount of folks who have been tested are symptomatic, right? That’s what-
Judy Persichilli: (39:49)
Governor Phil Murphy: (39:49)
… we’ve been preaching.
Judy Persichilli: (39:50)
Because that’s what we, yeah, that’s what we’ve been following. They’re mostly symptomatic.
Governor Phil Murphy: (39:56)
I guess if there’s a good news associated with that, a further piece of good news is that asymptomatic folks are not even a part of that, and then to repeat the health warning, which I want to make sure everybody who is symptomatic and tested negative, you’re not Superman. You still have to make sure you’re not being contagious regardless of what it is you have. Be smart. Is that fair to say?
Judy Persichilli: (40:16)
Governor Phil Murphy: (40:19)
Just, and then one last comment I had before we throw it open, unless Dr. Lifshitz, would you disagree with that or are you…
Dr. Lifshitz: (40:29)
Two people that you never disagree with are my wife and my boss and my boss’ boss, so no, I wouldn’t disagree with that. That’s absolutely accurate. I mean, certainly, we’re discouraging people without symptoms to be testing, and we know that a lot of people out there have very mild symptoms and are concerned. We know that we’re in allergy season amongst other things, and it can be difficult to tell whether you sneeze twice, people get nervous and go ahead and get tested as well. But yes, we’re trying to reserve testing for people with symptoms.
Governor Phil Murphy: (40:54)
Then the only other thing I wanted to say, counties, so total cases so far, Bergen continues to be the highest number. This is of the total of 3,675. Bergen has 701. Second is Essex, 342. By the way, they are the two most populous counties in New Jersey, so it’s not shocking, although the Bergen number continues to be 2X the second place county, which is Essex. Monmouth is next to 288. Middlesex at 277, and Union now is the fifth highest at 246. The other county observation I wanted to make you all heard the overnight numbers, this is the first overnight report that I can recall, I believe it is the first where the number of new cases was not led by Bergen.
Governor Phil Murphy: (41:42)
You’ve got Bergen at 61, but you had Essex at 63, Middlesex at 62, Passaic at 63. That’s both good and bad news. There’s probably some element of community spread and also some reality, as we’ve said already, that a lot more people are getting tested. I don’t want to a pound the same, so thank you, Judy, for-
Judy Persichilli: (42:05)
Governor Phil Murphy: (42:06)
… everything, and most importantly, for your tireless exemplary leadership. I don’t want to beat the same drum, and we’re going to go left to right, so we’re going to… Give me a second, but you’re on [inaudible 00:42:17]. Stage left to right by the way. Stage left to stage, so we’re going to come this way. My left. I apologize, as a former actor.
Governor Phil Murphy: (42:28)
We’re at war. There’s just no question about it. I’ve said this before, but let’s remember what the ingredients were to win World War II. It wasn’t that we panicked. We were smart. We worked our tails off. We were proactive. We were aggressive. We had courage. Those are the elements that are going to likewise get us through this, and we will unequivocally get through this as one family united and stronger than ever before. Dante Colucci is on the microphone, and we’ll start over here, sir.
James Dombrowski: (43:00)
James [Dombrowski 00:43:01], post-eagle-
Governor Phil Murphy: (43:02)
This is the… Not hearing any amplification out of that. Sorry.
Dante Colucci: (43:06)
I need to… One Sec.
James Dombrowski: (43:07)
James Dombrowski, the post-eagle colonel. Have you seen significant decrease in crime across the state with what’s going on?
Was the question a reduction in crime?
James Dombrowski: (43:16)
We’ve actually, year to date, seen a 25% reduction in crime as compared to last year, and an 18% decrease in shootings.
Speaker 2: (43:29)
All right, my usual-
Governor Phil Murphy: (43:30)
Stays that way. Brian.
Speaker 2: (43:31)
All, so list of-
Governor Phil Murphy: (43:33)
I see you, Brian. I apologize. We’ll come back to you, Brian.
Speaker 2: (43:34)
List of questions. One, I know there was talk about hotels being used for quarantine. Would we know what that would look like or if that’s going to happen? Then I got more question, but-
Governor Phil Murphy: (43:43)
Speaker 2: (43:44)
Two, based on what the President said in recent days about the economy versus reopening the economy, can he do anything to lift that, I mean, that’s going on in the state? Could he caused businesses to be reopened here with federal authority? Three, there’s also been discussions about people dying before getting positive tests back about COVID-19. How is that being handled? Are you concerned about numbers being off a little bit because that, and-
Governor Phil Murphy: (44:15)
Do you have a slide show?
Speaker 2: (44:19)
… [inaudible 00:44:19]. No, that was good. That-
Governor Phil Murphy: (44:20)
Speaker 2: (44:20)
I’ll give… Go ahead.
Governor Phil Murphy: (44:22)
I’m going to have Pat address hotels. Judy will test folks who were passing before they get their tests. I will just say the president’s got the biggest bully pulpit in the world, and if the president United States says X, it has a huge impact. To the best of my knowledge, other than exercising the federal purse strings, that is not necessarily translated into direct action, but there’s a moral suasion associated with the presidency of the United States that is unlike any other office in the world.
Governor Phil Murphy: (44:59)
I would think, and I spoke to him yesterday, he made this point to me that he’s made in public now the past number of days, he doesn’t want the cure to be worse than the disease. I don’t think any of us do, but I do think there’s a responsible way to go about that, and one of the huge levers available to get that done responsibly is the action that God willing Congress is taking today. That is as… If it stays in the neighborhood that I was read into by Senators Menendez and Booker coming in here, if it stays in that neighborhood, that is a huge jolt to the economy that will allow us both to fund the aggressive healthcare steps that we need, the PPE, the health care workers, the hospital support as well as the huge dose of… Mark, that was good to see you go to your arm there. That was… We’re making progress… as well as the huge dose of small business, unemployed insurance, state aid, transit aid directly into the economy.
Governor Phil Murphy: (46:04)
Pat, any comments on hotels in your deliberation? By the way, the Army Corps, the National Guard, I believe more than the Army Corps, I believe the Navy is also with us at the Rock. We’ve got folks embedded literally in the Rock morning, noon, and night. Please.
The followup on that, the fact that FEMA designated a federal coordinating officer today, I met him this morning at the Rock. That’s a good sign for us that a designation of that type is made and we trust that that will shortly lead to that declaration that you spoke of, Governor.
With regard to hotels and everything is really on the table at this juncture there in the bullpen phase, quite frankly, as well as with college dorms, and if I could just touch upon the question with regard to a body that has, that somebody who has passed away, and this is not from the health world, and I’ll kick that to Judy, but even this afternoon, when we’re trying to make sure that we’re able to allow families to adhere to their religious ceremonies and have that done in a timely fashion, in this particular instance, it’s a Jewish victim, that we’re really struggling to make sure that those tests get done. We can offer those families that the type of support and allow them to send their loved one off as they should according to their religious observances.
Governor Phil Murphy: (47:23)
Yeah, just quickly [inaudible 00:47:24] on that, faith leaders have been overwhelmingly extraordinary of all faiths. I had a conversation last night, a friend of mine, one of the most consequential preachers in the state who reached out to me and said, “Listen, I just need you to… Can we work through this together?” He had a dilemma with someone who had passed, and the responsible behavior was overwhelming, and I’d say likewise on the part of Pat and the rest of the folks who come into contact, returning that, meeting that with the same level of responsibility and care and sensitivity, I take my hat off to you. Judy, the sad reality of folks who may pass before they get-
Governor Phil Murphy: (48:03)
The sad reality of folks who may pass before they get tests back. Any comments on hotels or dorm rooms as well?
Judith Persichilli: (48:11)
… Because we do have them in reserve, as the colonel said. They would be for symptomatic individuals who have tested positive with moderate symptoms, that are living in close quarters at home, and should isolate, but perhaps cannot because of the living situation. They would be housed in a hotel or a dormitory.
Judith Persichilli: (48:38)
It would also be for our vulnerable populations, those that are living in our shelters, primarily the homeless population, that need also to isolate and does not have a residence to go to. Or it could be a patient that gets admitted to the hospital, and is observation, tests positive, and needs to isolate for a short period of time after their hospital stay, and it would be deemed a safer environment, not only for that individual, but for their family, or their partners, and loved ones.
Judith Persichilli: (49:16)
The hotels are in reserve. We have gotten a great response from a number of chain hotels offering up their residences.
Judith Persichilli: (49:26)
On those that have passed that could be COVID- 19 because it is disproportionately hitting our vulnerable elderly population, we expect that there are individuals that are in the last stage of their life that have passed, where their primary diagnosis is not COVID-19. Their primary diagnosis could be congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive lung disease, natural causes, and they could be COVID-19. They will not be tested for it. We don’t believe it will disproportionately have any impact on our statistics. It’s de minimus at this point.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:14)
Just a couple of quick add ons. Pastor John Taylor from Trenton reached out to me last night and reminded me that, that hotel that has changed names and logos over the years in Trenton, is another example of something we’re talking about, potentially for homeless, for low symptomatic. Secondly, I think in fairness to the Woodbridge reality, you mentioned Judy earlier in your remarks, in many cases those are end of life patients to begin with, to your point you just raised, right?
Judith Persichilli: (50:41)
That’s absolutely right. They take care of a lot of hospice patients.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:46)
I mean, this is a renowned … The sisters, bless their hearts, over the decades have been extraordinary in taking people home for their final journey.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:56)
Pat, I meant to ask you, troopers testing positive, what’s that look like?
Just right before I walked in, another trooper came back positive. That’s four, as well as two recruits out of the 196 that are training from home.
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:10)
Four plus two?
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:13)
Thank you. Brian, I think you’re up next. I didn’t see you back there. I apologize.
That’s all right Governor. Thank you very much. Governor, for you, can you say either the town or the County that the Wegman’s is in?
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:23)
Manalapan in Monmouth County.
Manalapan? Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:26)
For the commissioner and actually the two … Well, for the commissioner, can you tell us more about St. Joe’s … I think it was St. Joe’s you said is the nursing home? It’s not a hospice though, correct?
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:41)
It’s long term care.
Long term care.
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:42)
Can you tell us more about why you would close it down at this point? And then for both of the experts, the cure worse than the disease, when do you think that, as experts in this field, we should be allowing people go back to regular jobs, as opposed to non-essential jobs? Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, two months, when it’s all gone? Could you address that please?
Governor Phil Murphy: (52:10)
I assume when you said experts in this field, you weren’t referring to Callahan and Murphy in that respect.
That would be correct.
Governor Phil Murphy: (52:16)
Okay, just checking. More color on St. Joe’s, Judy, if you don’t mind?
Judith Persichilli: (52:20)
We had a call with the sisters, they called us on Friday, that 12 of their employees were home feeling ill with respiratory symptoms. Additionally, they have about 89 residents between their longterm care section and their assisted living section. And I don’t have the exact numbers, but a number of them were not feeling well and exhibiting respiratory symptoms. I think three of the residents had been admitted to the hospital and had tested COVID- 19.
Judith Persichilli: (53:03)
Because of the individuals, the employees that did not come into work, the sisters were working around the clock to take care of almost 90 residents. I don’t know how many were there, but when they called us, I can tell you that it was an extremely stressful situation, so we reached out to other longterm care facilities in the region, and I can tell you that the collaboration was extraordinary. They were able to get nurses and aides to go in over the weekend, but it was really the sisters that called us and said, “We don’t think we can continue this with the employees that are ill, and if they’re in quarantine now for 14 days, and the inability to get the adequate staff to give the residents the care that they require and deserve. Would you help us find places for the residents to be placed?”
Judith Persichilli: (54:06)
That’s why I said the ultimate result may be closure. It is not something we’re mandating, but we will work with the sisters for an orderly transition and then we’ll continue to work with them on perhaps closure.
Governor Phil Murphy: (54:24)
Question of when … How much …
Judith Persichilli: (54:26)
I’m going to let Dr. Lifshitz answer that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (54:31)
Just remember one thing Judy had said earlier, and I think I referenced it, we’re having our first really intensive modeling discussion after this, so we’ll have more on this over the coming days, but Dr. Lifshitz.
Dr. Lifshitz: (54:43)
Let me start by saying that reasonable people can certainly disagree on the counter balancing, the economic impact, and the social disruption, versus the potential saving of human life. And certainly as a physician, I’m going to come down more on the saving of human life being the more important part of that aspect.
Dr. Lifshitz: (55:06)
We’re well aware, I’m certainly well aware of the tremendous amounts of destruction, economic, social, and otherwise that’s going on in the state right now, and I am grateful that the state is going ahead and doing those sorts of things because I do think it’s important to try to save as many human lives as we can in this situation.
Dr. Lifshitz: (55:24)
As to how long, well as the commissioner said, we are undergoing some modeling, which may help give us a better idea. But my real answer is this, since we don’t know for sure exactly how effective the measures we’re taking now are, we really have to wait and see.
Dr. Lifshitz: (55:39)
We have to see the data coming in, we have to see what’s happening with the hospitals, we have to see whether they’re getting overwhelmed or maintaining the flow. And at this point, unfortunately, I really can’t say any better than that, besides we have to wait and see. And we are too early because has been mentioned at this point, what we’re seeing now and these numbers are not what’s happening now, it’s what was happening about 10 days ago. We’re seeing people now in the numbers who were infected roughly 10 days ago or so. We’re really too early to know exactly what we can expect to see with the response that we’ve already taken.
Governor Phil Murphy: (56:12)
I just want to remind everybody … Thank you, doctor. Remind everyone that we went to the most aggressive social distancing posture on Saturday, so here we are on Tuesday. I think if you do the math and you just sort of plug 10 to 14 days out from Saturday, I don’t know that it makes a whole lot of sense trying to interpret the data between now and then because we just don’t know, as a non-expert would say that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (56:39)
I want to also … May I, point a personal privilege commissioner, give a shout out in particular to CareOne? I spoke to Lizzie Straus yesterday who’s terrific, and CareOne in particular with this challenge.
Governor Phil Murphy: (56:52)
St. Joe’s, Judy mentioned this, this started to unfold on Friday night and it was a battle over the whole weekend. We discussed it privately yesterday. It’s come to a boil, clearly now. And certain facilities, as usual, it’s New Jersey, when in doubt we pull together and I want to give CareOne a shout out, if that’s okay with you?
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:12)
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:15)
I can barely see you back there.
Just a couple questions, if I could. One is on the federally run hospitals that are coming to New Jersey right now. Can you give us any more color on exactly how those will work? Who’s going to staff them, considering the limited staffing levels at our existing hospitals, the supplies for those, and how would somebody get admitted to a field hospital, versus a typical … How would somebody end up there, versus one of the hospitals we already have?
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:42)
Yeah, I do have another question.
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:44)
We’re telling the story of a 25-year-old Jack Allard, a kid from Ridgewood. He’s on a ventilator and he was just air lifted out of state. His mom has been speaking to the media and she is expressing roadblocks she’s hitting with trying to get her son treatment, specifically, I’m going to butcher the name of this drug, but Remdesivire, which is an antiviral.
Governor Phil Murphy: (58:07)
The demand for this drug is overwhelming right now. I’m wondering what the state is doing behind the scenes. I know you’ve been talking a ton about access to testing, getting more tests, getting more supplies and ventilators, but has the state turned any attention, is there anything you can do, in terms of speeding up production of this or other treatment?
Governor Phil Murphy: (58:29)
Is that it?
Governor Phil Murphy: (58:33)
For now. Let me do the hospitals, but the experts need to weigh in. Again, these are four hospitals. I believe they are 250 beds each, and this will be a big story of displacement from what are currently occupated critical care and other beds into these field hospitals. The speed at which this is happening apparently is unprecedented, so again, I want to give the president and FEMA a huge shout out, and I’ll leave the details beyond that to the experts.
Governor Phil Murphy: (59:04)
I don’t want to get into the details of any particular person’s situation, but my family became aware of this over the past couple of days, with this particular person. I got involved personally last evening and I’ll just leave it there that God willing, we’re just praying for this guy, apparently a great guy, an incredible athlete. Who could blame his mom for screaming out on behalf of her son? But beyond that, I’m going to leave it there.
Governor Phil Murphy: (59:36)
I’m not smart enough, I never will be smart enough to know whether or not that drug is efficacious with this current virus. That’s not what I’m saying. I just meant in that particular case, I’ll leave that to the experts. But Judy and Pat, could you comment on the field hospitals? Judy, do you mind jumping in?
Judith Persichilli: (59:54)
Each hospital will be 250 beds. We have already identified the supplies we need for the hospital, we’ve identified the number of staff, the number of RNs, the number of aides, the number of pharmacists.
Judith Persichilli: (01:00:07)
We’ve separated the state into three sections, North, Central and South, and we’ve invited the level one trauma centers to be the coordinating entities of North, Central and South. That does not mean that they will be personally running those hospitals. That’s yet to be determined because as you mentioned, staffing is difficult right now, so we are, along with the individuals at the Rock, and nursing agencies that we currently have contracts with, and nurses that are calling up every day volunteering, we’re keeping lists of names, and we will be putting together a centralized, coordinated a staffing agency for the lack of a better term. We are getting approvals through higher ed to call up student nurses that are in their last semesters. This will fulfill their clinical requirements for graduation. The staffing, yet to be determined, but we have a plan. We have a plan for what we need to do to stand up these four field hospitals. We have a plan to promote collaboration regionally throughout the state, through the level one trauma centers who also have transport.
Judith Persichilli: (01:01:34)
And last evening I was on the phone with the hospital association and all of the CEOs, and we have a plan to move and increase the critical care complement in every hospital. It’s the continuum of care, critical care to step down. The step down units will become critical care units. Med surg units will more than likely be very full and other patients then would go to the field hospital.
Judith Persichilli: (01:02:06)
We’ve looked at the whole continuum and the hospitals are right now aggressively opening up every single bed that they have and we have a number of hospitals that have come forth and said, “I will clear out my hospital totally and be available to treat patients that have COVID-19.”
Judith Persichilli: (01:02:28)
We hope by the beginning of next week we’ll have a complete plan that we’ll be able to share with all of you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:02:36)
Judy, thank you. And again, to repeat the location of the three, will be Meadowlands, Edison, Atlantic City, and the fourth to be determined will live in Wall Township until it’s explicitly deployed.
Speaker 3: (01:02:58)
[crosstalk 00:14: 52].
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:03:00)
This request goes for Governor Murphy and for Commissioner Persichilli. Essentially, it’s about childcare. Daycare at hospitals and healthcare centers seem to be having a problem with staff calling out. They have no one to take care of their kids. Do you think as part of the attempt to overall flatten the curve, New Jersey should shut the New Jersey childcare programs, including early education? States such as Massachusetts and Ohio have already done this. Should funding be provided for the childcare subsidies due to the situation, and should the children of these essential personnel involved in childcare centers also have equal access to care?
There’s been some hinting, I think both from you governor and the commissioner, that you were going to take measures in this regard.
Meanwhile, part two to that question, DHS seems to be ramping up support for daycare, and Senator Vitale is calling for the shutdown of all centers. Again, should these centers be shut down? Who is essentially right, in terms of this potential policy debate?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:03:59)
I’ll give you my view on this and Judy, you should weigh in here as usual. Senator Vitale, by the way, has been very good about this. He and I spoke Saturday night. He’s been working … He and his team have been working with our team. I’ve been asked this question a number of times. When you put in place the steps that we’ve put in place, which are as aggressive as any state in America, you have to be mindful of the fact that we’re trying not to tilt the machine so much that it falls off the tracks. And in particular, when you’ve got first responders and healthcare workers who now have their kids at home for an extended period of time, you’re in a proverbial, between a rock and a hard place.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:04:46)
I have to say over the past number of days, assuming that I can, and I’ll speak for myself, and this is not official, but assuming that I can be satisfied and we can be satisfied that first responders, healthcare workers can have their daycare needs satisfied in an equitable way, I’m migrating toward making a decision about daycare more broadly.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:05:13)
Somebody told me 85% of daycare was already shut in the state. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t know if you’ve heard that number. I have no basis upon which to validate that or not, but it’s pretty clear this is becoming something that is a … I wouldn’t say a hole in our strategy because we went into this with our eyes open. We knew that we couldn’t do all of this at once, but I am personally migrating toward a decision that will, assuming first responders and healthcare workers are taken care of, that we are going to find a way to bring this down on the other side for the foreseeable future.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:05:52)
And then, Judy, do you want in?
Judith Persichilli: (01:05:53)
We know that nationwide, I think you’ve heard me say this before, 40% of nurses are the primary caregivers or single parents, and we need the nurses on the front lines, so good childcare is an imperative. We’re working with the hospitals. We’re doing a survey. In fact, I got it over my phone this morning, but I haven’t been able to pay attention to it, what percentage of their workforce cannot go to work because of childcare. And we’re doing it by county, so that we might be able to consolidate and bring up safe, good, responsible childcare close to the hospitals, so that the nurses and first responders know that their kids are safe and secure and they can come to work. It’s a huge issue.
Judith Persichilli: (01:06:48)
It’s something we haven’t … I think I heard the governor say, “We haven’t quite gotten there yet.”
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:06:53)
Judith Persichilli: (01:06:53)
But we will figure this out.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:06:55)
We’re getting there. We’re closer by the day. Thank you for that. I apologize.
Speaker 4: (01:06:59)
No problem. Three parts really: Homeless people, the post office, and then why are we keeping liquor stores open, and why are they considered essential? On the homeless issue, Jersey City came out this morning, started fining hotels for their population. Any concerns about COVID-19 getting into that population and what it would mean? Post office people who called me up last night saying they don’t have any protective gear, that they’re still taking mail from people that come to the post office. They don’t know where they’ve been, if they have anything. And then, like I said, liquor stores being considered essential businesses to keep open.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:07:39)
I’ll give some general comments and ask my colleagues to come in here. Thank you for that. I appreciate everyone bunching your questions together as much as you have. We had Carole Johnson here, our commissioner of human services the other day talking about some of the programs that we’re putting in place for the homeless. I won’t repeat what she said, but there’s a huge exposure. As usual, when something goes wrong in society, the folks who need government the most, the folks who are already left behind, are left further behind.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:08:12)
And so, we spent a lot of time talking to Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman about this the other day, and Judy may want to add in some color on that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:08:21)
Post office, first time I’ve been asked the question, but it seems to me it’s a similar reality to our retail workers in many respects, at the front lines at a supermarket. Obviously, there’s a federal component to that. I would just repeat what I said with our labor leaders the other day on the phone, until we have the amount of gear that we’re going to need, gloves, masks, et cetera in a mass fashion …
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:08:50)
I think the FEMA director administrator, if I’m not mistaken, said today, earlier today, that they were pursuing the manufacturer of 500 million masks. Until we get to that point, we’re going to have to be in an aggressive hygiene distancing mode.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:09:07)
I want to thank the folks who are at the front lines who are living that every day. I think it through when I come home at night and open the mail, I think about this. I open the mail, I go over and I wash my hands with soap for 20 seconds when I finish opening the mail. I assume if you’re in that position, you’re in that in a hyper way.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:09:27)
I had a very interesting shout out yesterday from a woman who had filmed a video for us around my state of the state address, and she’s a recovery coach. She and her daughter did a particular video. We did a bunch of videos that highlighted different elements of our administration. She was on her knees profusely thanking me for keeping the liquor stores open, as it relates to just the whole addiction front. Now, she said that the alternative would have been crushing for a lot of people.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:10:09)
The concern we got, the particular concern, I know we had this in Patterson, is that it wasn’t just whether liquor stores were essential or not, it was that they were becoming social gathering places or maybe even traditionally had been social gathering places in the so called back room.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:10:27)
We’ve sort of said two different things here, which may seem at odds with each other, but are actually quite consistent. One is we’re okay with the liquor store staying open, but we’re not okay with any social gatherings. We went from infinity, to 250, to 50. We’re now down to zero. Nobody can gather. Pat and colleagues in law enforcement up and down the state will enforce that aggressively.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:10:50)
Anything you want to add in particular, Judy on the homeless?
Judith Persichilli: (01:10:53)
I’ve repeatedly told you that vulnerable populations and the homeless are in that category. Right before I got in the car to come here, we were on a conference call with Commissioner Johnson and Deputy Commissioner Sarah Edelman on sheltering for particularly the homeless population. I commend them for their attention to that. It’s high on their list. I know Carole had, when she appeared before you, had suggested some of the things that she was looking at. I don’t have the line listing, but I can assure you that department of human services is very aware and working with department of health to make sure that A, they’re protected. If they show respiratory symptoms, they get appropriately tested and taken care of.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:11:45)
One thing I maybe suggest, I can’t remember if you were here when Carole Johnson was with us a few days ago. [Mahan 01:11:52] you help me just connect and get Carole to go through? We’ll offline. We’ll give you some of the things she said. Pat, any comments on homelessness in particular?
I’ve been on the phone every day with Commissioner Johnson and to Commissioner Persichill …
Colonel Callahan: (01:12:03)
… been on the phone every day with Commissioner Johnson and to Commissioner Persichilli, just phenomenal passion. Yesterday we were on with her, the Attorney General and Commissioner Beyer from Children and Families. Really yesterday’s call was about the release of the 1,000 inmates, that difficult decision about are they better out if they don’t have anywhere to go. We were really trying to identify those inmates being released and did we have the wraparound services? Because what we didn’t want to do is have somebody walk out of a county jail, find themselves in Patterson buying heroin laced with fentanyl and having them pass away and accidentally overdose.
Colonel Callahan: (01:12:42)
That’s how down into the weeds we are about every single decision that’s being made up to and including the use of hotels and college dormitories. We’re very thankful that the weather has been pretty cooperative. Because if it was five degrees out there, I think we’d be facing some even some more serious challenges. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:13:03)
I also said the other day that we put a big chunk, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is as strong an advocate about doing comprehensive policy work around reducing our homeless population both here in Newark and up and down the state. We had gone into this with our state budget with already a good place. It’s gotten even more challenging over time. Thank you, please.
Speaker 5: (01:13:30)
I have two questions on data collection in hospitals. Then [Ma Hen 00:01:33] asked me to ask a question for Catherine Landrigan. I have one from Elise Young if that’s okay if I can throw those in?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:13:40)
Speaker 5: (01:13:40)
First, on the data collection with the new order that Jared Maples signed yesterday and DOH started collecting those numbers, how did that work out? What did you guys learn? If I heard correctly, you had mentioned that the results had come from seven or so labs when there are 60 from what I understand that Dr. Tan said yesterday. Were you able to get all of the data you needed from those labs?
Speaker 5: (01:14:02)
Hospitals, how full are the hospitals and can you repeat how many of the cases were involved with hospitalizations?
Speaker 5: (01:14:10)
Catherine’s question, “Does the federal bailout package in its current form do enough to address your concerns about the state’s ability to cover unemployment claims in New Jersey? Does our state unemployment funds have the resources to handle that demand? If not, what should Congress be doing?”
Speaker 5: (01:14:26)
Then Elise Young’s, “If Trump urges everything to go back to normal, will the New Jersey regulations stay in place?” I can repeat any of those for you. That’s a lot.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:14:35)
This may be a window on the future of our press conferences. We’ll end up with one member of the media in front of us saying, “On behalf of Brent, on behalf of,” so thank you for that. I’m just going to give a couple of comments and then throw it over to you all. Please jump in as usual.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:14:51)
On data collection, I don’t think we would’ve had the negatives two days ago that we have today. It is beginning to make a difference, but I think it’s beginning to make a difference. I use the word an imperfect window into the broader data universe. I think you didn’t disagree with the adjective imperfect, but it is a step. If other states that have done it, not many have done this. We know Connecticut has done this and their experience suggests that it takes some time for the gaps of information and data to close.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:15:25)
I’ll leave hospitals to Judy. I think for Katherine the answer is yes, but assuming the federal number is as big as it looks like it’s going to be. I don’t have the numbers in front of me. Again, this was again being negotiated, so this is not a final bill. Senator Menendez I believe told me that the unemployed insurance fund was $200 and something billion. That without having done the to the fifth decimal place of math for New Jersey, that feels to me for Catherine’s question if it’s at that scale federally between the state’s fund and the federal money, that should be enough.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:16:07)
Listen, I understand, for Elise, I understand it’s not just the President. Tom Friedman wrote about this yesterday, which surprised me a little bit. I understand given the enormity of the impact on the economy, I can understand folks who want to find us fast and as short a way, a road back to normalcy as possible. I get that completely, but we got to do it responsibly. I don’t think anyone is suggesting otherwise, but we’re not there yet. We’re going to stay the course because we believe we’re basing our actions on the fact and science associated with the spread of this virus.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:16:50)
As I mentioned a couple of minutes ago, you can’t flip a switch. We had begun to aggressively for many weeks get out ahead of this, but we really took our most draconian steps on Saturday. That’s only three days ago. We need a longer runway I think it’s fair to say to get to get a handle on this.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:17:12)
Judy, on any of these questions, but especially the one that I didn’t answer at all related to hospital.
On the testing, we think at this point we’re getting 92% of all of the test results. The other 8% are from, one is a hospital lab that doesn’t have a direct link into our data system and then some smaller labs that are approved to do the testing and don’t have a direct link. But 92% as of this morning is pretty high.
The hospital question was?
Speaker 5: (01:17:46)
How full are the hospitals and can you tell me how many cases had involved hospitalizations again?
How full are the hospitals?
Speaker 5: (01:17:52)
Do you know the number of free beds across the state?
I don’t have the percent occupancy. I can tell you that the North Jersey hospitals are pretty packed with all types of things, but certainly impacted by patients with COVID-19.
Speaker 5: (01:18:11)
This 27% attack rate, is that good, bad? What should we think of that number?
That’s a 27% positivity rate. What that tells us is that of all the people we’re testing, 27% of them are testing positive. I think you heard the Governor say that these are mostly symptomatic patients, which means that the symptoms of a respiratory disease are something other than COVID-19. I guess you could look at that as the glass is half-full because the majority do not have COVID-19.
If it hangs around 20%, 25%, 27%, that helps us with our predictions on what percentage of them would then require hospitalization and then what percent of the hospitalized patients would require critical care? That brings us to how many additional beds do we need. It’s a vitally important percentage. I’m glad we have it. We’ll use that in our modeling.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:19:15)
My big aha here was the more data, the better. Gratified that we’re getting a better picture and we got a ways to go. Don’t anybody expect that we’re going to be in a different posture in the next few days. John.
A couple of questions around schools, but also health. In terms of Newark, you said to be determined on deciding whether schools would be closed for the rest of the year. Can you talk a little bit about your thought process and what factors you’re looking at to make that decision? As you know, a few states have made that decision.
A second question is, you said graduation requirements would stay the same. About half of the kids need that test to graduate and there’s still a long process to go and there’s no schools to go to to go through that process. Can you speak to any worries about whether that’s going to make it more difficult for students?
The last is a health question. I guess it’s a follow-up on the previous one in terms of data to hospitalization specifically. I think yesterday you gave some numbers on that. It was something like 600 or so, if you could update those.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:20:24)
John, on schools, that’s a decision we just haven’t taken yet. I don’t have any more color on that. What are we going to look to? We’re probably going to be looking at a lot of the things we’ve been talking about today. I think folks should expect that schools are going to be closed for a meaningful period of time here. I’m hardly making news I recognize by saying that, but that’s the case. When we have a more specific sense, I promise you we’ll give it to you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:20:53)
I’m trying to find my actual wording here. It might be here, but I think I said graduation requirements will not be impacted if I’m not mistaken. That is where I will hang my hat. Here we go, sorry. This decision will not impact the graduation requirements of any student.
But some of those requirements are going through a portfolio process. They’re taking alternative tests that may or may not be happening at this point.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:21:26)
Correct. My point is that we’re not going to prevent kids from graduating from high school because of the decisions we’re making either about standardized testing or how long school will be out.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:21:39)
I missed the health question, but I think Judy, you’ve got it, right? You have to hit the mic there. Judy, your mic.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:21:48)
As of Friday evening, there were in our hospitals 600 PUIs and 100 positive. That’s a rolling number. The hospital association I’m sure has it, we don’t look at that on a day-to-day basis.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:22:07)
Also, to both of the sets of questions here, there are certain places that are obviously hotspots in the terms of the hospital community. Holy Name has been one that’s been on the cover of the paper, has been in the press. Our prayers continue to be with Mike Marin who was himself battling this and their whole team there because they’d been really at ground zero.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:22:26)
Speaker 6: (01:22:27)
A municipality took it upon itself to map out clusters of positive cases in its neighborhoods and order all residents, both well or sick, to stock up on food and supplies for two months and forbade them from leaving their properties unless there was some kind of emergency or they’re an essential worker. An elected official said he would expand that order to the entire city if necessary. Given Executive Order 108, do you support municipalities taking measures such as this? From a governance standpoint and a public health standpoint, are independent orders like this one helpful or harmful?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:23:14)
What was the community? I missed the community.
Speaker 6: (01:23:17)
It was Newark.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:23:18)
Speaker 6: (01:23:19)
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:23:21)
Newark, yeah. We’ve answered this before already as it relates to Newark. As it relates to executive orders, there’s one that supersedes all others and it’s ours. It’s the state. There’s no question about that. Pat literally has the ability with my consultation and others to either add to that order or take away from that order. That’s it. That is hard to say anything beyond that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:23:51)
But what I also said is that Mayor Baraka had said, I think it was more our press release, I don’t know that we’ve ever actually seen an order. But most if not all of what he said was consistent with what we’ve said, which is folks should go out only … the name of our order is the Stay-At-Home Order. We think folks should be staying at home. I think he agrees with that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:24:14)
Why should you go out? You should go out only to get essentials, only to get stuff that you need for your family. You should be going to work only if you’re essential. Otherwise, either you’re closed or you’re working from home. That’s a fairly simple reality. I think I did say the other day we need restaurants to be able to continue to stay open for takeout. I think the Mayor understands that, but it’s overwhelmingly consistent with what we had said.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:24:45)
But there’s no question in terms of the executive order that we have. We have to run this as one state. We can’t run the risk of different rules and regulations from one community to another. I think the Mayor understands that. He’s as good a leader as there is anywhere in the state of anywhere I know in the country. I think we ultimately are in a good place on that. Any more real quick buzzer rounds? Please, real quick, Dante.
Speaker 7: (01:25:16)
Do you have any statistics on the number of charges or people that you’ve arrested in the past day or so since you’ve talked about [crosstalk 01:25:24]?
Colonel Callahan: (01:25:24)
We’ve actually tasked our regional operations and intelligence center that. We’re getting that information as per our request with the 21 county prosecutors. It hasn’t been that high. I’ve heard of specific cases, the one the Governor spoke of particularly. We will in relatively short order to be able to give you the sense of what’s been charged.
Speaker 7: (01:25:50)
Is that something you’ll say at a press conference?
Colonel Callahan: (01:25:51)
If the Governor-
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:25:52)
Dante, I need you buddy. One more time.
Speaker 7: (01:25:53)
Is that just something that you can tell us every press conference from now on?
Colonel Callahan: (01:25:57)
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:25:58)
We’re now on the hook. I will say this. Pat confirmed to me that traffic violations and traffic accidents are down meaningfully. Not surprisingly given they’re a lot fewer cars in the road. John, real quick.
A quick one, you took some action yesterday on freezing some spending. We’ve heard some questions from school districts. Is this going to affect the release of state aid numbers for them going forward? Should they be ready to be making changes in their budgets? This is, as you know, they’re building budgets now for the next school year.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:26:26)
John, I can say one thing. You’re on the education beat.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:26:30)
The answer is to be clarified further by the Treasurer. I would just tell everyone that we spoke to the Senate President and the Speaker last night. This is something that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. We’re trying to trim our sales in a very challenging time, but more details to come.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:26:46)
Anybody else, back, across? Please, Christie?
Just a quick one. I just got an email that I think it was a 30-year-old man who is a Mexican national, ICE said he tested positive. He was in the Bergen County Jail. The Supreme Court order that was discussed yesterday, does that apply to ICE detainees? My guess is no. What’s going to be done with them in terms of the release?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:27:16)
Do you have an answer for that? I’m not sure I know the answer to that.
Colonel Callahan: (01:27:18)
I would defer to the Attorney General.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:27:20)
[Mohan 01:27:21], can we follow up with either Matt or the Attorney General’s office? Is that okay? Thank you. You guys good? Brent, real quick.
Real quick, do you plan at all to name and shame people or businesses that have been price gouging? Two, have there been any reports of hospitals or healthcare facilities unwittingly buying fake respirator masks?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:27:41)
I’d say one thing on the first, I said this yesterday, anybody who is trying to take advantage of this crisis should expect what’s coming at them because they deserve it. I don’t know if that’s naming or shaming or throwing the book at them versus half the book, but we will have no tolerance at all for people who use this crisis to somehow advance their own interests and to justify bad behavior.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:28:16)
Secondly, I get 15 or 20 emails a day about people who claim they’ve got some big warehouse somewhere. If only we could fork over a million dollars in cash up front, they’ll be happy to sell us some, Jared knows this, some N95 masks. I don’t know, have any hospitals wittingly or unwittingly been sucked into that?
Some hospitals under the pressure of trying to get PPE for their employees and keeping their employees safe to continue care, I know some of the hospitals have responded to those calls. I also know that they’ve spent an awful lot of money, more than they normally would for those products. I can tell you that when they do that, I usually get a call that asking for forgiveness rather than permission. I have great empathy for what they’re trying to do. I just ask that we keep our coordinated approach that we’ve put in to keep that together because I think it will spread donations and procurement to the people that need it the most evenly across the state.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:29:28)
I’d just say two things very briefly. You can’t argue with why folks are as desperate as they are given the heroism of the healthcare workers and first responders who were at the point of attack in many cases not with the proper supply, not just in New Jersey, around the country of the equipment that they need to protect themselves. I echo that completely.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:29:51)
Secondly to repeat something that I said yesterday, we’ve gone from a whole series of parallel inputs on PPE and then a whole series of parallel outputs into a hourglass on its side where everything is coming into one funnel on the intake and then coming out in an organized fashion on the distribution side. That’s making a difference.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:30:14)
You good or do you have something? Thank you all. I want to thank Commissioner Persichilli, Dr. Lifshitz and the entire health team, Colonel Callahan to you and yours, Director Maples, to all the folks. My colleague Martel, who has been here at every single press conference we have had. Thank you for always being there.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:30:35)
Again, we will get to you with anything in the interim, but if you don’t hear from us beforehand, we’ll be gathering tomorrow at 2:00 PM at the War Memorial in Trenton at a minimum in addition to Judy, myself, we’ll have Colonel Callahan and Colonel Park from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to talk a little bit more about the bed capacity, field hospitals, et cetera. Thank you, all.