Apr 8, 2020
Phil Murphy New Jersey COVID-19 Briefing April 8
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a press conference today on coronavirus. He delayed the New Jersey primary until July 7 and is planning to limit the number of people in stores as NJ cases surge above 47,000. Read the full transcript here.
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Governor Phil Murphy: (00:01)
Our state has now lost 1,232 precious lives. At this time, Judy, if I’m wrong about this, you’ll correct me, three previously reported deaths had been removed from our count. And Judy will be able to speak not only to that, but to give you some color on the positive tests as well as the blessed souls we have lost. It’s almost unfathomable, folks, when you think about that 1,232 lost lives.
Governor Phil Murphy: (00:36)
I would like to mention two of the tremendous individuals in particular who we have lost. First, is Dr. James Wilson who passed away on Monday night at the age of 93. There he is with his son Syd. And I’ll come back to Syd in a moment. He had lived in Bergen County for the past 50 years. Born in the Dominican Republic. He was a pioneering physician. In the 1960s, he became one of the very first Dominican physicians to open a clinic in the United States in New York City’s Washington Heights, where he tended to patients for more than 40 years. He and his wife Nilda recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary along with their six children and extended family and friends. And, as I say in this photo, he’s with his son Syd, who was a dear friend. We send our condolences to everybody who knew him, obviously and most importantly his family, to Syd and his fellow family members. What a life.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:43)
We also lost Diana Tennant of my County, Monmouth County. And there is Diana. She worked for many years at the Fulfill Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean counties helping to feed countless families. She was a leader within the Latino Coalition of New Jersey and was a past chair of the Latino Festival, a festival that I’ve been to several times of Monmouth County. She is remembered by her friends as someone who always had time to lend a hand. Diana was only 51 years old and had so much more to give. We also send our condolences, prayers to her family and friends at this time.
Governor Phil Murphy: (02:28)
These are just two stories of the many, many more we could tell of those who we have lost. Every single one of them has made our New Jersey family what it is. And we honor their legacies as we grieve with their families. None of them, you have my word, none of them will be forgotten. And, for them and for their families, we need to continue doing all we can to keep slowing the spread of Coronavirus. We don’t need to, nor do we want to in any way lose any more members of our family. The best way we can protect this New Jersey family is by social distancing.
Governor Phil Murphy: (03:14)
Yesterday, we noted that we’re beginning to see, and I don’t want to overstate this in any way, the very first potential signs that the curve may be finally flattening. And, if you look at the positives today and you put the denominator, the positives that we’ve already had, you’ll see a little bit more of that evidence. But we cannot be happy with only reaching a plateau. We need to keep strong and keep determined to see that curve begin to fall and ultimately get to zero. That’s going to require many more weeks, at the least, of our being smart and staying at least, at all times, six feet apart. This morning I spoke with Governor Cuomo and exchanged notes with Governor Lamont. I reached out to Governor Wolf. While we are not there yet, I repeat, we are not there yet, we all agree that, just as we had a regional approach to dealing with the upside of the curve and still do, we discussed, in a general sense, a regional approach to the things like testing, tracking, and the reopening slowly and responsibly, whenever that moment comes, of businesses and schools, and potentially a regional approach for mobilizing resources when Coronavirus comes back, as many predict it will, or for the next pandemic to come.
Governor Phil Murphy: (04:46)
No one wants to see our state get back up and running as much as I do or any one up here wants to. It’s the singular goal that we are all working toward, but we need everyone in this with us. We can’t do it alone. And it’s not just for the five of us to do or… our other colleagues are here, Parimal Garg, by the way, from Counsel’s office, is with us. Parimal, thanks for being here. It’s not just for us to do. It’s for all nine million of us to do.
Governor Phil Murphy: (05:17)
So, keep practicing your social distancing, even when outside, and even when wearing a face covering. Remember, a face covering, and we’ve all worn them coming in this morning, and we were wearing them now regularly if not constantly, a face covering, Judy, am I right, does not trump social distancing. Social distancing is the king. Face covering is important but it is not more important than social distancing. Stay in doors. Stay at your home unless you absolutely need to go out, or unless you’re one of the essential workers we need out there to help us get through this.
Governor Phil Murphy: (05:55)
Keep washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And, if you feel like you’re under the weather, that’s okay. But don’t even think of going out or getting near anybody. There’s going to be plenty of sunshine and summer to come. And the sooner we can flatten that curve and come down the other side of that curve, the faster we can all enjoy it.
Governor Phil Murphy: (06:18)
Switching gears for a couple of announcements, if I may. Tomorrow morning, I will be touring, Pat, I believe with you, with Colonel Callahan, I believe Senator Cory Booker, the field medical station being set up right now at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison. We will be joined, I believe, by both Major General Jeffrey Milhorn and Lieutenant Colonel David Park of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And we’ll also be joined by Major General John King from the Department of Defense and just up from the great state of Georgia and in our rock as we speak.
Governor Phil Murphy: (06:55)
As you know folks, this is our second field medical station. It will also be our largest, Judy, at 500 beds, right? We remain immensely appreciative of the partnership from the Army Corps and of the federal administration in helping us bring these much needed beds online.
Governor Phil Murphy: (07:16)
Next, today I am signing, not one, not two, not three, but four executive orders. That is not a typical day by any stretch. Number one, I am extending by 30 days the public health emergency I initially declared on March ninth. These declarations, unless extended, actually expire after 30 days. So, this ensures we’ll continue on our current footing for at least another 30 days.
Governor Phil Murphy: (07:42)
Second, I am signing an order, and I don’t do this lightly, and I don’t do it with any joy, to close all state and county parks in the state of New Jersey. We have seen far too many instances where people are gathering in groups in our parks erroneously thinking, since they’re outside, social distancing doesn’t matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. We understand that staying at home is hard. We get that and that you need to get some fresh air. But you must do this close to home. Take a walk or bike ride in your neighborhood or at a park in your town that is open. And, by the way, the decision, unless Parimal corrects me, of municipal parks to be opened or closed is up to the municipality. That is a decision that is made locally by the municipality.
Governor Phil Murphy: (08:36)
And, by the way, don’t travel to somebody. If you hear your town’s parks are closed on the next towns are open, please don’t travel to someone else’s parks. We need 100% compliance to flatten the curve. And, unfortunately, that now requires us to take this step. And again, don’t think that I take this lightly. Some of my fondest memories with my own children and Tammy are beautiful spring days in parks, playing soccer, going for a run, enjoying our family. But my focus and our focus, our sole mission right now is the health of every New Jersey family. And we must not just flatten this curve. We must crush this curve.
Governor Phil Murphy: (09:20)
My final two orders pertain to our public schools. Charlie, I hope you’re listening wherever you are. I am signing an order to extend certain deadlines for Boards of Education that still operate on an April election timeframe, because their elections, as you have heard a couple of weeks ago, have now been postponed until May 12th. There are only a few more than a dozen districts statewide which still hold to the April timeframe. And my order will ensure that they have enough time to certify their budgets and make staffing decisions for the following year.
Governor Phil Murphy: (09:59)
My final order follows my directives last month indefinitely closing our public schools and canceling our statewide assessments. First, I am waiving the student assessment requirement for graduation this year, including the portfolio appeal process. This means that the 13,000 current high school seniors who have not yet satisfied the student assessment requirement will no longer have to submit a portfolio appeal in order to graduate. This order also waves the use of student testing data for educator evaluations, which was not feasible anyway, given that we have canceled this year’s standardize tests. I thank the man to my left, Dr. Repollet and his team for his work with, among others, the NJEA, law makers, and stakeholders on this, and for the work to come on a process for properly evaluating our educators without this data.
Governor Phil Murphy: (11:03)
Couple of announcements on testing. First, tomorrow, April 8th, the PNC Bank Arts Center drive through site will be open at 8:00 A.M. and remain open until either 4:00 P.M. or when it hits its capacity of 500 tests. The Bergen Community College site will be closed tomorrow, but it will reopen on Thursday, April 9th. Additionally, and this is a little bit of a switch, both of these sites will be open Saturday, April 11th for 500 tests a piece. And they will both be closed for Easter Sunday.
Governor Phil Murphy: (11:41)
Separately, Gloucester County will open a testing site tomorrow at Rowan College of South Jersey. This site will operate for Gloucester County residents only and is by appointment only. To receive a test, you must be pre-screened for symptoms. Again, in a world of scarce resources, we must focus and continue to focus on symptomatic folks. You could be pre-screened for the Gloucester County site by calling (856) 218-4142, (856) 218-4142.
Governor Phil Murphy: (12:18)
As I mentioned yesterday, there are now more than a dozen publicly accessible testing sites whose information can be found by visiting our online portal at Covid19.nj. gov/testing, again, Covid19.nj.gov/testing. However, there are many more sites being run by hospitals or other private sector partners that are not listed. If you believe you are showing coronavirus symptoms, please call your primary care practitioner right away. And they can assess you. And, if you meet the standard for testing, they can direct you where to go to get a test. And, Brady, I believe at our last count we had 50, at least 50 sites around the state.
Governor Phil Murphy: (13:05)
Onto donations and PPE. I want to start by giving a huge thank you to Hilton and American Express, which in partnership with Hilton’s ownership community are donating up to one million hotel room nights across the nation and through the end of may to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and other frontline medical workers who need a place to sleep, or recharge, or to isolate from their families. We know that there will be frontline responders in our state, including many of the volunteer medical responders we are bringing in who will need a place to stay throughout this emergency. And we cannot thank Hilton and American Express enough.
Governor Phil Murphy: (13:51)
Next on PPE, we continue to pursue every possible avenue for PPE on our own. And I know, in addition, Pat, to your compliance report, you’ll want to comment on any developments there, whether that’s on the open market or via the strategic national stockpile. And, from the stockpile, our latest accounting shows that we have brought in and distributed more than 1.1 million pieces of PPE. But goodness knows we still need more.
Governor Phil Murphy: (14:19)
I want to give a big shout out to BASF, which is donating 1,000 gallons of hand sanitizer that it is producing right here in state at their facility in Washington Borough and Warren County. We are greatly appreciative of their efforts.
Governor Phil Murphy: (14:38)
From Monmouth County, we learned that Hatteras Press in Tinton falls created 7,000 protective face shields for healthcare providers and first responders that have been distributed across the state. Owner Bill Duerr reported that he is planning to create another 10,000 a day over the next two weeks. We cannot thank Bill and Hatteras Press enough.
Governor Phil Murphy: (15:04)
And notably, Bristol Myers Squibb is donating $345,000 worth of PPE to New Jersey. Some of these supplies are already at their facility in Princeton and will be delivered immediately to medical facilities in need. And an additional shipment is expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
Governor Phil Murphy: (15:25)
BMS, you may have seen this also announced this morning, I believe, that it is expanding its patient support program to provide free medicines to those who have lost their health insurance due to this emergency and its impact. I spoke this morning and I want to thank him publicly to CEO of Bristol Myers Squibb, Giovanni Caforio, who is a good friend, for all that BMS is doing. And I might also add, in addition to Giovanni and the BMS team, his wife is running a food bank in Princeton that is feeding upwards of 400 families a day. And we thank her and the entire BMS family.
Governor Phil Murphy: (16:04)
If you have PPE to donate or the means to produce it, we are still, believe me, and will be for a long time, accepting your donations. Please reach out to us at Covid19.nj.gov/ppedonations. And Colonel Callahan’s team will be in touch with you to accept your donation. And, in advance, we thank each and every one of you for both the small slugs, and the big ones, and everyone in between. It’s so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing and you keep donating. And together we can get what our public health and safety responders need. And they are heroes today and every day.
Governor Phil Murphy: (16:48)
First, before I close, I want to give a huge collective thanks to the communities across the state who are getting creative in celebrating their friends and neighbors major milestones while practicing social distancing. Tammy and I had a call with members of our team this morning with faith leaders and thanked them, particularly with Passover beginning tomorrow, we’re in the midst of Holy Week, Easter on Sunday, Ramadan not too far down the road. All of us have the inclination to want to come together and we can’t. We must resist that at all costs. And there’s been enormous cooperation around the state, both by community leaders and faith leaders. And the creativity is extraordinary. So, folks are getting creative, in particular, as I say, as they celebrate their friends and neighbor’s major milestones, sadly including funerals and memorials, while at the same time practicing social distancing.
Governor Phil Murphy: (17:46)
Thanks to the news reports and to all of you tweeting us at #NJthanksyou. We’ve learned of countless stories of friends standing across the street with happy birthday or just married signs, posting signs of support for our heroic essential workers on their front doors, or residents organizing online fundraisers to support our public health and safety responders. This is precisely the community spirit we need right now to get us through this time. We can’t be physically together, but what you are doing to ensure that your community knows that everyone is being thought of and everyone is being celebrated, that’s how we do it. I want to share another idea, before I turn things over to Judy, that was sent my way by my dear friend Bill Lavin. Bill is the former president of the state Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association or FMBA. And he’s a retired Elizabeth firefighter. Today, he founded a new runs Where Angels Play Foundation, which builds playgrounds for kids who need a safe place to be kids, in memory, by the way, of fallen kids. And it has a global reach. Recently, Bill’s team lost a longtime volunteer to Covid-19. They couldn’t gather with her family to mourn her passing, but they wanted to do something to let them show how much she meant. So, they took up a collection and they purchased gift certificates to that volunteer’s favorite restaurants, which they then gave to her family. In doing so, they were supporting a small business that really needs a helping hand right now. And, once this emergency ends, the family will be able to gather and eat at a place that was so special to the loved one that they lost. I think that’s a good place to end my formal remarks today.
Governor Phil Murphy: (19:44)
We will get through this unequivocally. We will be able to be together as a family, as one family again. But to do so, we must continue to keep what we’re doing right now and have been for the past many weeks to flatten the curve, break the back of that curve, and then get to that better place where we all can be close and be together again. We can do this. It will not be easy. And I know it isn’t easy right now. And you have our enormous thanks and respect. It won’t be fun. We know that we are not out of the woods yet. We’re not close to that. And that more residents, sadly, will fall in and some will not be with us when we get to the other side. But we have to do this to make sure that those numbers are as low as we can make them and certainly as low as they otherwise would be. We get there together, folks, as one extraordinary New Jersey family.
Governor Phil Murphy: (20:40)
Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep staying home. Keep staying a distance from each other. And, if you do that, we will get there. We are all in this together. We’ll only come out of this if we stay together by, ironically right now, staying apart. With that, please allow me to turn things over to the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Judy Persichilli: (21:06)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon. As I’ve mentioned before, we are being vigilant about all of the residents in New Jersey, especially the most vulnerable, those in mental health facilities, longterm care facilities, pediatric longterm care, and state and county jails. We know these individuals are at risk because of the congregate settings within which they reside. As I’ve shared with you, our longterm care facilities continue to be severely impacted. Right now 188 of our longterm care facilities in the state have at least one Covid-19 case. On Saturday, I spoke with the head of the Longterm Care Association. And I advised him that, if the facilities weren’t complying with a state law to notify staff, residents, and families about their outbreaks, that we would release their names, those who are not in compliance. We are still contacting each and every facility to make sure that they are releasing the information and to receive documentation of that.
Judy Persichilli: (22:14)
A majority of them are telling us that they’re complying. But what we are learning is somewhat more disturbing. They have also shared with us that they feel they don’t have sufficient resources or sufficient staff to take care of their patients. So, we decided this morning, the team at Department of Health, that we have to develop a statewide plan to assist the nursing homes that are experiencing outbreaks and also shortage of staff and equipment. This will be a whole of government approach. It will cover from North Jersey to South Jersey. It will require, in some cases, for patients to be moved around. And that’s extremely disturbing to elderly individuals.
Judy Persichilli: (23:02)
Extremely disturbing to elderly individuals, but for those that have not been exposed, we want to keep them safe and for those that have been exposed or perhaps diagnosed positively, we want to make sure that they get cared for.
Judy Persichilli: (23:18)
The department has also been closely monitoring our four state psychiatric hospitals. Currently, there are 46 staff members and 34 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. So we’re working with the hospitals to conduct surveillance and implement the infection control protocols to reduce exposure. The Department of Human Resources, Human Services, excuse me, has reported 24 positive cases including one death among the 1200 individuals that they serve at our developmental centers in the state. The Department of Corrections has reported a total of 67 employees, 5 inmates and 3 individuals in their residential communities that have tested positive for COVID-19. The Department of Corrections Website, it identifies those numbers and are broken down by facility. The Department of Health is in close communication with all of our sister agencies on these impacted populations.
Judy Persichilli: (24:37)
Currently, as of this morning, there are 7,017 hospitalizations which include COVID-19 positive patients and persons under investigation. 1,651 individuals are in critical care. And 94% of those individuals, 1,540, are on ventilators. You may recall that our worst case predictive modeling, we shared that we may have 8,000 critical care cases with 7,000 on ventilators. I want to assure you that our plans are moving in the direction to be able to accommodate these patients, but we still need ventilators.
Judy Persichilli: (25:33)
I want to take a moment to go over some of the department’s COVID-19 guidance for healthcare providers. Current department guidance does not allow for healthcare providers to return to work while they are still symptomatic. With the understanding that some have mild symptoms such as a slight cough that may persist for long periods of time, that is not considered to be exclusionary.
Judy Persichilli: (26:02)
Our guidance, which follows the general CDC guidance, recommends that symptomatic healthcare workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 may return to work seven days after the symptoms first developed, and 72 hours or three days after fever has resolved without the use of fever, reducing medications with a significant improvement in symptoms, whichever period is longer. Although it’s not recommended that those without symptoms get tested, should an asymptomatic healthcare professional test positive, they should continue home isolation for seven days after their first positive COVID-19 test; provided that they remain asymptomatic. And out of an abundance of caution, they should also be masked while at work. If an individual has no symptoms, test positive, they can discontinue isolation when at least seven days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test.
Judy Persichilli: (27:16)
Please go to the Department of Health website or the CDC website for more information on this guidance. It is important to follow these recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our state.
Judy Persichilli: (27:32)
As the governor mentioned, we are reporting 3,361 new cases for a total of 44,416 cases in this state. And yes, sadly, 232 new deaths have been reported to the department, of which 33 were residents of longterm care facilities. So there are now 1,232 fatalities in our state. As the governor mentioned, three of the deaths reported yesterday were removed from our account. These numbers change occasionally because after further investigation we find more details that could lead to the individual being removed from our account, such as a death being reported in New Jersey, but turns out the individual may not be a New Jersey resident or not meeting the criteria to be classified as a death due to COVID- 19.
Judy Persichilli: (28:31)
Of the deaths totally, the trend continues 60% male, 40% female, 1% under the age of 30 or 11 cases, 5% 30 to 49 years of age, 17% 50 to 64, 32% 65 to 79, and 45% over 80 years. 60% or 435 of our cases are reported as individuals who report is white, 24% or 175 as black or African American, 5% reported as Asian and 11% as other. And at this point, 44% have documented underlying conditions. However, there are 670 cases that are still under investigation for underlying conditions. And as reported, 10% from longterm care facilities.
Judy Persichilli: (29:40)
So of course, we offer our sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones. And as in the past, and now in this most spiritual of times in our calendar, I remind you to stay connected, support one another. Reach out to those your relatives and friends who are alone or with you, may be fearful. And remember, be careful, be safe, be healthy and stay home. Thank you,
Governor Phil Murphy: (30:08)
Judy. Thank you. You may have said it, positivity rate on the testing. Did you say that?
Judy Persichilli: (30:11)
I did not. Let me just find that. The positivity rate is tracking the same; over 40%. Yeah, mid 40s.
Governor Phil Murphy: (30:21)
Also, top five counties and total cases, and this is stayed about the same, although Hudson, it has really shown over the past several days unfortunately, it’s closed in closer to Essex. So you’ve got Bergen number one, Essex number two, Hudson three, Union four and Passaic five. So those have continued to be the five counties with the most cases now for 7 or 10 days.
Judy Persichilli: (30:45)
On the positivity rate, we have tested 89,911. The positivity rate is 43.77%; that’s 39,353 testing positive.
Governor Phil Murphy: (31:02)
And again, we’ll remind everybody a couple of things. Number one, these are overwhelmingly symptomatic people, so they’re going to be, Ed, unless you disagree, they’re going to be on average, less healthy than the average New Jersey resident. And secondly, we’re getting these … I’m not sure what we think our current delay is, but these are specimens that we’re announcing today that were collected 12, maybe is 10 to 14 days ago, right?
Judy Persichilli: (31:30)
Yeah. The commercial labs are all overloaded as well.
Governor Phil Murphy: (31:36)
And then we continue, and it’s early, and I’m proud of the fact that we’re with added it, but again, I think Judy and I both agree it’s imperfect, but you’re beginning to get some sense of race of the fatalities, bless them, God bless their souls. And of the things that we’re focused on and many are focused on, is that, not that that’s the only metric by which one can draw conclusions, but it is overwhelmingly the case that even in peace times, nevermind in times of war, such as the one we’re in now, that communities that are usually left behind are further left behind. And it doesn’t correlate entirely to communities of color, but invariably that’s the reality that we’re dealing with.
Governor Phil Murphy: (32:25)
And so the more as Judy and team go through this and with each passing day the better a handle we have on the profile of these blessed fatalities, the better we’ll be able to react and respond to the community work that’s going to need to be done to pick up the pieces going forward.
Governor Phil Murphy: (32:44)
Longterm care facilities, again Judy, you mentioned 100 and-
Judy Persichilli: (32:48)
Governor Phil Murphy: (32:49)
188, and that’s almost exactly half of the longterm care facilities in the state.
Judy Persichilli: (32:54)
There’s 375 long term care facilities and another probably 200 assisted living types, dementia homes.
Governor Phil Murphy: (33:03)
Judy Persichilli: (33:03)
So put it all together, it’s still a number that we’re still concerned about.
Governor Phil Murphy: (33:07)
And so this is going to be an area that you mentioned with a state plan, that’s something we’re going to be coming back to folks just to give them more color on what that looks like over the days ahead.
Governor Phil Murphy: (33:17)
Pat, with your blessing, I’m going to turn to Lamont next and then we’ll have you bat clean up. Is that okay with you? Again, great to have the Commissioner of Department of Education with us. One of the most dramatic steps we’ve taken is to shut schools in this state period, public, private, religious, all. And it’s something that we’ve never done before. And as we said at the time, we wanted to do as good a job as we could to get out ahead of what we thought some of the challenges would be. The ability to learn remote period, but also, for the big chunks of our state which don’t have ready access to devices. To be able to feed kids when their most reliable meal every day is from the school. The general challenge of remote learning and all of the extraordinary work that our educators and moms and dads are doing.
Governor Phil Murphy: (34:15)
And so we thought it made sense to give folks a quick sense of where we think things are, maybe a little bit on where they’re headed and I’m honored that the boss’s with us. Please help me welcome the Commissioner of the Department of Education, Dr. Lamont Repollet.
Lamont Repollet: (34:32)
Thank you, Commissioner and Colonel for your leadership. These extraordinary circumstances call on all of us; me and my colleagues at the Department of Education, superintendents, principals, teachers, para professionals, and support staff, food service directors and workers, child study team members, parents, to reach for new Heights of innovation, collaboration, and mutual support.
Lamont Repollet: (34:57)
We have been in this now for 20 days. 20 days ago, all New Jersey schools were ordered to close, and ask that the education community give yourself some grace. Adjusting to these unprecedented times requires unprecedented acts of leadership and humanity. I am extremely proud of and impressed by the education community and parents who are meeting these complex challenges. Today’s executive orders are designed to allow to keep uninterrupted focus on what matters most: our communities, basic educational needs. We recognize at this time, completing a portfolio appeals process will be an unwelcome and counterproductive burden for our students and our districts. We recognize that we must provide some flexibility from typical educator evaluation procedures to allow districts to engage meaningfully with the teachers, students, and leaders. These adjustments are necessary to allow districts to continue the important work of providing critical educational services to all of our students, in light of the complex challenges we face. I’d like to highlight some of that work, Governor.
Lamont Repollet: (36:07)
Instruction and technology. As schools and districts began preparing to carry out closures, the department strove to provide every flexible available to empower school leaders to continue providing instruction to students. That was phase one of the department’s covert preparedness work.
Lamont Repollet: (36:24)
Meeting the needs of students and meeting the 180 day requirement. In phase two, we have been gathering feedback and data from districts and their success, successes and challenges in implementing their instruction. To make good and our commitment to equity of access to instruction, the department had to better understand the digital divide and how the state can go about bridging that divide. A survey distributed to every district helps us better understand his landscape and our ongoing challenges.
Lamont Repollet: (36:53)
70% of districts have reported that at least 90% of their students have access to the internet at home. But to help fill gaps, districts across the state are actively helping families connect to the internet at home through activities such as connecting eligible families with free internet services, providing donated or purchased hotspots, launching public private partnerships to boot and boost internet access, and working with local public libraries to lend hotspots to families.
Lamont Repollet: (37:22)
Our last report indicated that even with the help of innovative measures like these, of the New Jersey’s 1.4 million public school students, about 110,000 cannot access the internet at home, and nearly 155,000 students need one-to-one devices. We continue to work with districts and provide any resources and flexibility we can to help drive those numbers as low as we can.
Lamont Repollet: (37:47)
For our students with special needs, we were proud last week when the state board adopted temporary regulations that allow school districts and educational agencies to deliver special education and related services to students with disabilities through the use of telepractice. We are hopeful that this flexibility will help school districts and educational agencies ensure that students with disabilities receive the services that are entitled to them.
Lamont Repollet: (38:13)
And for our students, school districts around the state are using nurses, counselors, and other health professionals to increase mental health service and emotional supports, assist with wellness checks and provide targeted assistance for students identified as most at risk. My staff has been working with social and emotional learning associations to collect research and resource and how schools can manage the emotional impact of this pandemic on their students.
Lamont Repollet: (38:43)
Food. It is impossible to address the health of our students. However, without addressing food security. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has been doing the critical work of ensuring that school districts have the tools to continue providing school meals. I would like to thank Secretary Fisher and his team for that collaboration.
Lamont Repollet: (39:02)
The DOE has partnered with local Office of Emergency Management to help ensure food is safely distributed. We have visited over 100 food distribution sites and continue to provide assistance on safety protocols, such as establishing grab and go distribution models and using social distancing best practices.
Lamont Repollet: (39:22)
We know that more work remains to be done. We know that districts face particular difficulties with the youngest learners and with the readiness of their workforce to shift to a remote instructional environment. With this data in hand, phase three of our plan would be to boast the targeted individualized supports through our Boots to the Ground field service efforts. We also hope to synthesize the many lessons we learned and an after action report on school closure to ensure our state is prepared should, God forbid Governor, we ever confront a challenge like this again.
Lamont Repollet: (39:55)
Thank you again to the entire educational community for rising to these complex challenges and continuously centering the needs of all of our students and educators. It is an honor to partner with you in this critical work. Thank you
Governor Phil Murphy: (40:08)
Lamont, thank you. A couple of things before he turned to Pat to bat clean up here. I want to give a big shout out. Someone I was on a lot with today. I just want to reiterate, Andy Slavitt has been a huge resource for our state and for our team, and I can’t overstate that enough. And part of the reason I raised that is, he and I were in a conversation this morning, and we’re going to have a massive post-mortem whenever it is the dust settles as a nation for sure. And I hope that it emulates at the national level as well as at the state level.
Governor Phil Murphy: (40:47)
We in New Jersey will need to do big post-mortem. I hope it emulates the leadership that Governor Kane showed along with Congressman Lee Hamilton for the 9-11 commission. We need to do that as a nation and we certainly need to do that as a state, whether it’s healthcare matters and certainly educational matters. When you do something you’ve never done before, and as you said, Lamont, God forbid we never have to do it again. But in the off chance we do, we better darn learn those lessons. As they say, “If you don’t learn the lessons of history, you are destined to repeat it.” So thank you for that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (41:23)
One other comment before Pat jumps in. I think Judy and I would both want to say this. A life lost is a life lost. So sadly, the numbers are what they are. And by the way, of the total fatalities in our state, almost 1000 of them have been in the past week. So of the 1,232 lives, precious lives lost just under 1000 have been in the past week. Think about that for a second.
Governor Phil Murphy: (41:48)
But it’s also fair to say, Judy, I think this is a national phenomenon, not just a New Jersey phenomenon. The weekend skews when the data comes in. A fatality is a fatality, sadly we can’t bring these people back. But the up and down on the numbers, just we wanted to mention again, we’ve said this before, these don’t all literally, they didn’t all happen since 2:00 yesterday afternoon. Is that fair to say? It’s a multiple day reality that comes to-
Judy Persichilli: (42:17)
Yeah. And the reporting during the weekends. So it has been noted nationally that it’s not as accurate. So, if you smooth this out, you average it out, it’s still, we don’t like the numbers, but it’s about 130 a day, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.
Governor Phil Murphy: (42:34)
And a life lost is a life lost, and nothing we could do to bring them back. Our job collectively, all 9 million of us by the way, is to lose as few lives and have as few people sick as possible. So thank you for that. Dr Lamont Repollet, thank you for your leadership and for your remarks. I’m sure folks will have questions. Colonel Callahan as usual, with bat cleanup on compliance, on PPE, any other matters Department of Defense update? Great to have you and thank you for your leadership.
Colonel Callahan: (43:06)
Thanks Governor. Very quickly on PPE. In addition to the tens of millions of orders we have from the state for PPE, we do have a request in to FEMA for 4.5 million N-95 masks, for the 5.7 million surgical masks, for 6.8 million gloves, for 3.9 million gowns as well as 3.8 million face shields. We have more than 1000 medical beds on order for the upfitting of that hospital capacity relief team that’s out there trying to upfit wings and mothballed hospitals.
Colonel Callahan: (43:42)
And I think one of the greater stories, which I don’t even know if it’s been reported yet, was last night we received word from the state of California on the emergency management assistance compact EMAC mission. California knowing what New Jersey and New York are going through, the Department of Defense is flying 100 ventilators out to us today, and they will land today, with the understanding that in three weeks or so they’re probably going to be needing them and hitting their surge and peak.
Colonel Callahan: (44:09)
So that’s the type of, I think, that collective effort understanding, we’re being hit and now, but as this thing moves its way across, that return of the favor, I think, is what we’ll be in the position hopefully to do that when we get to the other side of the curve. So just a good story and a indication of the team effort that’s happening across a state boundaries.
Colonel Callahan: (44:33)
With regards to compliance, I just want to lead with a story from the Attorney General’s office in conjunction with the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. If you recall, last week I had reported a pub up in Blair’s town was cited twice. Well, the Attorney General, Attorney General Grewal and Director Graziano from the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control are seeking to revoke the liquor license of that establishment. And an indication that not only will the violation of the executive orders not be tolerated and zero compliance, but that the Attorney General, as well as the Division of Consumer Affairs and all the licensees and the regulatory functions they oversee, including Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, that they have that authority too, to go after those licensees and revoke them. So I thank the Attorney General for his action and leadership in that regard. Just a few on the overnight. Elizabeth, there was a domestic violence stabbing incident on that subject while being taken into custody, coughed and spit on the officers indicating screaming that he had COVID. Newark issued 38 executive order of violation summonses and didn’t have to close any businesses last night, Governor. So that was good. Trenton Police Department reported enforcing two executive order violations and closed one business in Rumson, if you can recall.
Colonel Callahan: (46:03)
… and closed one business in Rumson, if you can recall the party that the governor spoke to. After further investigation an additional subject, a 46-year-old male was charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. Another subject in Monmouth Beach was arrested for being at a closed pavilion in violation of the executive order in order to smoke a controlled dangerous substance. And in Camden, a large gathering of 20 or more people who are arguing was broken up, and a woman who refused to comply with the officer’s orders to disperse was also charged. That’s all I have, governor.
Governor Phil Murphy: (46:40)
Colonel, thank you. And again, I meant to give this shout out earlier to Governor Newsom, all I can say is I hope that we have a, “Lafayette, we are here!” moment. And we can say that it may take some time, but we will return the favor as soon as we can responsibly do so. So, thank you for all that. And again, we’re going to enforce … we reserve the right, as we’ve said today, again with mixed emotions, but there’s no question we have to do it, closing State and County parks.
Governor Phil Murphy: (47:15)
So we reserve the right to take further action, but in most respects it’s going to be whether or not all nine million of us are adhering to the actions that we’ve already taken. And thanks to Colonel Callahan, the Attorney General, and to law enforcement up and down the ladder, and up and down the state, enforcement is going to be the name of the game. So, thank you for that, and for every day. I think with that, Matt, I don’t want you to pull a hamstring, so I want to give you a second to get over there. We’ll start with Brent and we’ll sweep from my left to right.
Governor Phil Murphy: (47:51)
Just while you’re doing that, tomorrow I think at 10:15 we’re touring the field medical station in Edison. And I’ll be there for a brief with the Colonel. And as we mentioned, I hope Senator Booker and some representatives from our military and Army Corps. And then we’ll be here tomorrow unless you here otherwise, at 1:00 PM. Thursday is always subject to whether or not there’s a White House VTC. And assuming we can get the data and so bear with us on this in respect of folks who observe Good Friday and I would be on that list. We are likely going to be here, but earlier than normal on Friday. Try to finish before noon, if we can. So we’ll give you more details. Mahan will let you know. Brent, we’ll start with you.
All right, so I have a few because I’m reporting for other people. One, the public health emergency, that’s the state of emergency you ordered on March 9th that’s been extended? Two, I missed the racial breakdowns. And was that for total cases or just the new ones?
Governor Phil Murphy: (48:54)
Three, how many total cases, active and inactive, would we be expecting at the peak, whenever we’re expected to peak? Are you aware of a standard policy of issuing one surgical mask and face shield per employee per week? Is this acceptable? Are we really that bad off? How does this policy not spread infection? Should candidates not be campaigning in person or door-to-door? How many police officers have tested positive and how many of are quarantined?
New Jersey has the fifth highest number of legal immigrants with healthcare backgrounds who are not working in the healthcare industry because they hold degrees from foreign universities. Are these among people you’re asking to volunteer to help cope with the virus? You mentioned coordinating to restart the economy. This is from Politico. You mentioned how you’re coordinating a regional approach to restarting the economy. Do you anticipate this will rely on widespread testing in each state and how long do you think-
Governor Phil Murphy: (49:53)
… I just want to ask, do you think we should, maybe we’ll just roll into tomorrow’s briefing. I mean, what do you have, man? Come on.
How long do you think it will take the scale up testing to that level? I could go all day.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:06)
We love you, but we can’t let you go all day.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:08)
Do you have a microphone, [inaudible 00:00:50:09]? The public health emergency from a month ago? Just if you real quick answer that? Brent’s first question.
Speaker 1: (50:18)
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:19)
Brent’s questions started yesterday, so I think that was his first question.
Speaker 1: (50:23)
Today’s order is just extending the public health emergency. The state of emergency that we declared on March 9th is indefinite, so that didn’t need to be extended, but the public health emergency pursuant to the law, the legislature passed, has to be renewed every 30 days or else it expires.
Do you know what order number that was?
Speaker 1: (50:38)
It was an executive order number 103.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:42)
103. Thank you for that. Judy, one more time on racial breakdown. Do you have that handy? Do you have your mic there?
Judy Persichilli: (50:49)
Yeah, These are obviously, excuse me, not all of the cases. Of the 729, excuse me, known cases.
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:03)
Again, is this is 729 cumulative. You’ll note that there’s another almost 500 or perhaps more than 500 that we-
Judy Persichilli: (51:12)
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:13)
We still don’t know yet, right?
Judy Persichilli: (51:16)
60%, or 435, are white. 24% or 175, black or African American. 5% or 36, Asian. And 11% or 83, listed as other.
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:33)
I would just say this, that that is a … I meant to say this earlier when I made the comments about, as imperfect as it is getting the racial breakdown is something that we all feel is important, without knowing what’s in the other category, the number that jumps out is the African American number as it relates to the overall population. That is a meaningfully higher percentage at least of that cohort than it is in the state of New Jersey. Judy, total cases, as I remember these, total cases at peak?
Judy Persichilli: (52:12)
According to the Lakshmi model, I believe it was 37,000.
Governor Phil Murphy: (52:17)
I’ve thought 36. I’m in the same neighborhood.
Judy Persichilli: (52:20)
Governor Phil Murphy: (52:20)
Again, this is, remember the Lakshmi model we showed you yesterday had as the runaway freight train number of folks who are infected as just about three million. Good news and bad news. Good news is based on the evidence that we have, and this isn’t … we’re in the second or third inning maybe at most, but based on what we now know, we brought that number down, the range for that number down meaningfully in terms of total persons infected. The Lakshmi model, and again, I’m not referring to chime, but the Lakshmi models worst case is 509, 000, as I recall.
Judy Persichilli: (53:02)
It’s over 500,000.
Governor Phil Murphy: (53:03)
Over 500,000 infected. And from that 35,000 folks would require, 35 or 36,000 require hospitalization. Again, let me just say this, those are still huge numbers and the 36,000 hospitalizations, no matter all the heroic efforts that are being put in to expand capacity, that is outside of any realistic ability of us to withstand that. So the social distancing must continue. We have no choice. One surgical mask per person per week. I’ve not heard that. What type of workers we talked about?
It’s a question from one of my colleagues sent me, so I’m not sure.
Governor Phil Murphy: (53:45)
I’m not aware of that.
Judy Persichilli: (53:48)
Yeah, I’m not aware of that either. We are looking at what hospitals are currently doing in New Jersey, because some hospitals are determining their own guidance. And we’re looking at what’s going on nationally, making sure that we have the appropriate masks for the clinical staff. We are looking at putting out guidance for masking after we finish finding out what the rest of the nation’s doing.
Governor Phil Murphy: (54:15)
I’m not sure who you may have in mind, Brent. I’m not running for anything right now, but my personal opinion is people should not be going door-to-door campaigning, period. That’s not what we need right now. Stay at home, pick up the telephone, send an email, send a text. Unless I get any disagreement from the right. Police officers, number of infected, did you have? I’m sorry.
Number of police officers who have tested positive and how many are quarantined?
Colonel Callahan: (54:45)
I’ve got that, Gov.
Governor Phil Murphy: (54:45)
Okay, Pat. Okay.
Colonel Callahan: (54:47)
As of this morning it was 562 statewide tested positive. And right now, 2,941 are self quarantining.
Governor Phil Murphy: (54:58)
Pat, do you have any, I should know this, what’s the denominator? Total law enforcement?
Colonel Callahan: (55:02)
I think it’s 36,000.
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:05)
You was just going to say 35. So, that seems to be a convenient number, by the way. 35 and 36,000. Just looking at the … and I’m looking at how many quarantined again? Pardon me?
Colonel Callahan: (55:14)
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:16)
Colonel Callahan: (55:17)
So to give you an idea within the next 48 hours, 111 will be back to work. So, we’re on a daily call with-
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:24)
… you’re cycling through.
Colonel Callahan: (55:25)
Just always making sure that we’re able to provide law enforcement.
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:29)
This is another reason. I mean, we’ve talked about the heroic healthcare workers, the first responders who have to go in and enforce what we’re talking about. They’re putting themselves in harms way and they’re doing this at less than capacity. Brent, you’re illegal immigrants question, you said we’re not top five?
This is again from colleagues. I get like 30 colleagues sending me questions a day.
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:52)
New Jersey has the fifth highest number of legal immigrants in healthcare who are not working in the healthcare industry because they hold degrees from foreign universities or do not speak English well. Are these among the people you’re asking to volunteer to help cope with the coronavirus?
Governor Phil Murphy: (56:06)
The answer is yes. We were pretty definitive about the fact … my friend, Felix Roca, in West New York was pounding away on this point for many days. And the answer is yes, but they’ve got to go through a process, right? So they’ve got to sign up in the regular way to sign up and volunteer. It’s the volunteer page on the covid19.nj.gov. And then you were saying … your last one was?
This is from Politico. The regional approach to restarting the economy. Will that rely on widespread testing in each state? And how long do you think it will take to scale up to that testing level?
Governor Phil Murphy: (56:42)
I would say too early to tell. And perhaps other governors would have more color on that. But, I mean the house is still on fire and we’re still fighting the fire, but we acknowledge, and that was the basis when I was on last night with the Center for American Progress, we talked to, I mentioned Andy Slavitt earlier. That was the basis of a lot of the part of my conversation with Governor Cuomo. It certainly, Judy and Ed, tell me if you see this similarly, the notion of contact tracing is going to have to be a big part of making sure that the house doesn’t catch on fire again.
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:18)
There’s going to need to be infrastructure. What’s a restaurant look like? Do you have somebody with a temperature gun at the outside? And what are the protocols going to be for servers and capacity and distance? I think too early to tell, but we can’t, I do know this, we can’t wait X weeks or a couple of months to begin to be … we have to start that, which now, and we think that if we do it on a regional basis just as we did when we closed the economy and we closed our states, we’ll be a lot better off for that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:52)
Ed, anything you want to/.
Yes. What the governor said, basically, right now when we’re hopefully moving towards the top of the curve and we have 44,000 cases and that sort of thing, contact tracing and all those people is just not possible. As we begin to slide down the curve, as our number of cases decrease, then yes, certainly beginning to go back to that basic epidemiological response where you try to find those people, you try to isolate them as soon as possible. It becomes extremely important.
Governor Phil Murphy: (58:22)
Thank you for that. I think we’re going to Dave next. Dave. Good afternoon.
Hi. So governor, as I’m sure are aware, high school graduation is a big deal not only for the kids but their families, relatives and so forth, and it seems extremely obvious at this point even in the best case scenario, we’re not going to have large gatherings for high school graduations at the end of May or June. Question for you and the commissioner, if there has not been any specific plan made in terms of delaying those ceremonies, possibly as the commissioner indicated to me before the press conference started, what would your advice be to families in terms of how to look at this issue? Would it be possible that we may have bigger kinds of celebrations later in the year that the individual schools might suggest? Is there going to be a virtual graduation when kids graduate at the end of the school year, which presumably is not going to start again and so forth?
Another question for the commissioner. You had mentioned that 110, 000 kids I believe in New Jersey did not have any access to the internet, so that’s like 10% of the state’s children. How are they learning? What are they doing? In simple terms, are they getting any lessons or is there, I mean what if anything is being done with regards to trying to help those kids at least have some kind of structure and assistance and learning and so forth? And the final question for the woman who needs no introduction, you had mentioned the plan by the state to try to help the longterm care facilities and separate those patients who may be asymptomatic or we don’t believe are sick now, but as we know this can be tricky because they may appear to be asymptomatic.
Obviously, this is a plan in flux and you’re just starting to put this together, but can you talk a little bit about how this is going to be handled? If they’re moved, would they be in a quarantined situation? Is everybody going to have to wear masks? Where are they going to go? Is it going to be in the same region of the state or et cetera, et cetera?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:00:37)
I’ll start with the first one, Dave, on the graduations and then maybe turn to Lamont for anything on that he wants to add as well as how are the kids learning. We had talked earlier about pre-printing materials one month at a time. I’m sure that’s part of it. And then Judy to you on the longterm care. I’m not trying to be flippant, but I wouldn’t put any nonrefundable checks down on your celebrations right now. I mean it’s hard to say otherwise. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear that I am not. Again, we’re going to get through this. There’s no question about it. And not withstanding what Judy and I have said about the fatality, bless each of those souls, the numbers moving around, the testing numbers are beginning to look like there’s a trend and I hope I’m right about that. So, slowly but surely, assuming we keep our foot on the gas, we are going to get there. But, I think you wouldn’t be … in my shoes you wouldn’t be dealing with the facts, if I were to say publicly right now, that you should feel okay about a late May, early June graduation celebration. I just personally don’t see it. I hope I’m wrong, whether or not we can come back and figure out something creative. I hope we can. And my suspicion is that’ll be up to the district or to the private school or the religious school to do something creative on their own just like we’re seeing, sadly, funerals and memorials, weddings, births, bar mitzvahs, confirmations in a very unique creative way. My guess is you’ll see something similar applied to graduations. Any thoughts on graduations and also importantly on remote learning?
You’re actually correct. The governors correct. Yes, I am sorry. Graduation is a local decision, so whatever had been an activity planned, we just hope that they follow the health guidelines as far as social distancing and things of that nature. And we will provide whatever support necessary for those districts that chose to do a graduation. But, when it comes to that time. And in regards to the tool online, online learning is just one tool, the goal for us and the objective was to provide continuous instruction.
Continuous instruction could look like many ways. In some districts we have, as the governor said, pen and paper packets go home every month. Kids give them back, they have the books, they have book reports, so there’s various tools that you can actually use. Online is just one tool and it’s popular right now because a lot of technology, however, there are districts that go back to just the pen and paper, traditional tool.
Can I just ask a follow up? Commissioner, are you getting reaction feedback from your different school districts? Is that working? Are kids doing what they’re supposed to be doing? Are they getting encouragement or is the learning taking place the way you envision that it would and should?
I’m very pleased with where we are. I mean, in 20 days we asked him to go from a brick and mortar school to a virtual learning school. So you know there’s going to be challenges. I talked about it earlier, about the digital divide. And you see right now we’re addressing those issues. Districts should take it upon themselves to address those issues as well. So we’re very pleased with that. Some of the challenges you’re going to have is the youngest of learners, as I indicated earlier, parents at home working with these younger students that normally have one-on-one or para professionals.
So we’re seeing some of those challenges, but we’re also looking at some innovative approaches that our districts are doing, whether it’s looking at YouTube, whether it’s the partnership that the state has with the Department of Education, NJTV and also NGA to provide educational programming. So it’s an individual localized situation, but our job is to support them every which way we can. Whether the support for professional development, professional learning, which is one way, whether it’s just providing guidance across the board. So right now we’re in the position where we’re very pleased with where are we going right now.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:04:35)
I would just add a couple of quick things. And Judy, you should address the asymptomatic question as it relates to longterm care facilities. You can’t bat 1,000, as we’ve never done this before. We’ve got per capita more school districts than any state in America. We’ve got more school districts than we have townships. So you’ve also got a question of execution at the local level with strong state leadership and state guidance. And then you’ve got the other realities, and Christine Norbert Buyer referred to this when she was with us last week. We have to also remember that things like … we saw that very sobering chart of lesser child abuse reporting. I’d love to think it’s because less of that’s going on, and please God that is, but it’s much more likely that there is less interaction with teachers, coaches, nurses who would otherwise have seen that. So that’s another part I know of not just Lamont’s focus, but also of the other state agencies and departments. Judy.
Judy Persichilli: (01:05:38)
Sure. The direction that I’ve given to the team is to look at a statewide plan, but with a regional approach. And there will be an algorithm where we’ll identify patients, for example, asymptomatic no exposure, asymptomatic exposure, in an organization where either the employees or the other residents that there’s a significant cluster or outbreak. Symptomatic, but tests negative. Symptomatic and test positive. And I’m sure there might be more iterations of that and then we’ll identify the most appropriate location for the resident to be in.
Judy Persichilli: (01:06:21)
And within the locations there will be all infection control precautions taken along with cohorting of the residents and also cohorting of the staff. We have found that staff going from a facility to facility and then within facilities have lend itself to some of the problems that we’re seeing. So the algorithm’s going to a little deep, but we think we can do it. And actually, we must do it.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:06:53)
Thank you, Dave. Thank you, Judy. Do you have something, sir?
Speaker 2: (01:07:00)
Governor, a couple of questions for the reporters at NJTV News. So as long as we’ve been getting together like this, we’ve been talking about people who aren’t listening or adhering to your social distancing guidelines. Is there a tipping point where you implement a full lockdown? Is that on the horizon? Bus riders on NG Transit complained that there’s not enough distance because of service cuts. NJ Transit is saying it’s only a few bus routes that are affected by this and they don’t have enough manpower to add more service. But riders that have no choice but to take the bus don’t feel safe. Do you have a comment on that? And finally in business, can you update us on how the process for collecting unemployment is going since there’s so many people who are trying to get unemployment and just can’t seem to get through.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:07:47)
So, I think that these are largely on me, but anyone who would like to come in, please feel free to jump in. I think as you’ve seen today with State and County parks, which is a big step, the question of a full lockdown, there’s not much left that we haven’t bolted to the floor at this point. We are still looking at a few other, I mean Judy’s just been … in an answer to Dave’s question, longterm care facilities is an area where we know that we need to even drill down even further.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:08:28)
We’ve talked about corrections. I think our commissioner is going to be with us at the end of the week. Homes for the developmentally disabled, psychiatric hospitals, there are certain pockets of our state of communities, of our state where we know we need to be as sharp as we can be. But, there are other steps that we’re considering. But, we’ve taken most of the big ones that we think we both need to take, and at the same time, allow the state to reasonably and responsibly get on its feet in a reasonable-
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:09:03)
Suitably and responsibly get on its feet in a reasonable timeframe. On NJ Transit, and Dan Brian is here who spent a lot of time there. We want to know if folks are having that experience, go on our website and let us know explicitly which route that was. NJ transit’s got the challenge right now, and I’m not absolving a bus that’s overcrowded but diminished service, their ridership is down, I think 93%. They’ve also got manpower challenges, which are real. And when we hear these stories, we want to make sure we run them down and there’s still a lot of particularly essential folks who are using buses in particular to get to the, healthcare worker by example, get to a hospital. So I’m not going to say we’re batting a thousand, but we do want to know those experiences. And I can’t throw a rock at NJ transit because I know that ridership is way down. Service has to come out somehow approximate that and they’ve got real manpower issues.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:10:07)
Business unemployment, pardon me, I don’t have an update for you today. I promise you [inaudible 01:10:16] or Dan will get you one in terms of what their numbers look like in terms of early week. Rob Asaro-Angelo talked about, I forget what day he was with us, but they have processed 33,000 claims. We’ll come back to you and give you a sense of how many claims they’re processing per day right now and give a sense maybe what the backlog looks like. I don’t have a specific answer. But again, we’re on it and by the way, if you are having trouble getting through again, there’s a page on COVID-19 nj.gov if you’ve lost your job and you want advice, you want to know where you need to go to get help, unemployment insurance, et cetera. Troy.
Yes, thank you Governor. Just one question and maybe a followup today. It’s for Dr. Repollet, it’s about long range facilities plans for districts. The New Brunswick Board of Education submitted an amendment to their long range facilities plan. That is controversial, to say the least. I, for one have not been able to obtain the language of this amendment because the Board of Education has stopped responding to open Public Records Act requests and I know other community members are still waiting on records requests that would show the extent of contamination at sites where school construction’s proposed. So in light of that, Mr. Commissioner, will you wait to make a final decision on this very significant proposal until the state of emergency is over and the public can obtain the information that they need to give your team intelligent and informed input and make their voices heard?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:11:37)
Do you have anything else or is that it?
That’s all. Just maybe a follow up depending on the answer.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:11:40)
Depending on what your answer is. Okay. Lamont.
Lamont Repollet: (01:11:43)
Well, there’s a process. Right now we’re in a midst of ensuring we have continuous instruction. However, I have Coleen Schultz, our deputy assistant commissioner, right there, get the information in regards so we can try to track down and find that exactly the long range facility plan you’re actually talking about. Because that sits in a our office of finance and we’ll make sure we get back to you with that.
Okay, thank you. And just in case you do move forward with that process. How would you advise parents and taxpayers and other stakeholders to either protest the plan or provide comments or input? I’m sure they could have a gathering outside your office, but the governor and the state police probably wouldn’t look too kindly upon that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:12:21)
So I would say back to what you asked me about protests the other day, don’t protest as a group, we respect folks who want to protest, find some other way to do it virtually online, whatever it might be. And secondly, we’re going to get back to you with a more specific answer on this in particular. That’s okay. Thank you. Do you have a question, sir? You’re good? Back here, Elise, how are you? Come on down.
I’m good, thanks for asking.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:12:48)
So we’ll make sure it can someone get back? Make sure with Lamont’s office we get back to Troy. Thank you.
What’s the status of any ventilator ethics guidelines that the state was considering? Nursing home operator CareOne reportedly had five coronavirus deaths at its New Milford location in Bergen County CareOne issued a statement saying it wasn’t prudent for it to update the public daily on coronavirus in its nursing homes. What information exactly have you told nursing homes to make available and to whom? What is the deadline? How much information does the state have from nursing homes on hand? Are there penalties for noncompliance? And has CareOne responded to the state’s request for information about New Milford and its other locations? And finally, a FEMA question you’ve had a lot of praise for FEMA’s work in New Jersey. Other states aren’t so happy. Does New Jersey have a special relationship with FEMA because of Sandy? In other words, did that disaster help ease operations for this one? Also some states and even a hospital system here in New Jersey have said that the federal government has seized some equipment shipments. Do you know whether any of that has been redistributed for use in New Jersey? That’s it.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:14:17)
May I just, Judy, you should hit the ventilator guidelines in nursing home questions, CareOne more generally. I just want to repeat something Judy said earlier. We remain, I’ll do the litany as I do every day. “We remain way short of ventilators, personal protective equipment, beds and health care workers. So we need help on all of those fronts. We’re doing everything we can to stay out ahead of it.” So with that health warning, have you been spoken over to you? If I may.
Judy Persichilli: (01:14:44)
I didn’t catch all of the questions on CareOne, but I can tell you that we’re in actual regular daily communication with the principles from a CareOne because of their exposure in the state. What I mean by exposure is the number of facilities that they have. And we’re working with them to determine whether their facilities can support the statewide plan along with a number of other systems that have a number of facilities within the state. Specifically, Elise, I’m not sure what else you wanted about CareOne, I just didn’t hear it.
Well, I’m asking what you’ve requested from nursing homes throughout the state? What the deadline is? And to whom this information will be made available? And his CareOne responded to the state’s request for that information? And are there any penalties for noncompliance if a nursing home operator chooses not to disclose coronavirus information?
Judy Persichilli: (01:15:50)
Well, the first thing is we put out a guidance yesterday to all the longterm care facilities that they must report through the portal that the New Jersey Hospital Association has set up. I have to tell you, I think that they’re all reporting. I don’t get any indication that they are not reporting particularly their COVID-19 individuals, residents. I just don’t have indication that they’re not reporting. And by the number of reports that we have, which are over a thousand at this point, I believe they’re reporting.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:16:30)
The penalty would have been we named and shamed, right?
Judy Persichilli: (01:16:33)
Yeah, and we still may have to publish that along with the statewide plan. What this looks like. I just don’t want to put out information and say there it is. We have to put out information and say here’s the plan.
But are individuals who have family members, will they be privy to the information that’s being put out? In other words, what is the purpose of collecting this information? Is it solely for the state’s benefit or will this information be disclosed publicly and when?
Judy Persichilli: (01:17:13)
We’ve asked every longterm care facility to advise according to their statutory obligation to advise the residents, the employees, and all of the relatives of the residents of any outbreak, of any type of infection that’s been on the books for awhile. We reminded them of their responsibilities. And as I shared today we’re calling every single one of them and asking to show evidence of documentation that they have either sent a letter, an email, or made a phone call to the individuals noted in the statute. It is important for individuals to know what’s going on in these residences and we feel strongly that the obligation rests with the owners. However, we do believe at the Department of Health, we have an obligation to protect all of the residents of New Jersey, including the most vulnerable, which are in the nursing homes. And that’s why we are moving to a statewide plan.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:18:19)
Again, the onus is, and we’re going to go to the FEMA questions because we have to keep rolling here, but the onus, if it’s your loved one who’s in nursing, home X, it’s nursing home X’s responsibility to communicate with you and next of kin. It’s less, I would think less valuable to hear about aggregate data or data that relates to some other loved one’s nursing home.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:18:45)
FEMA, I think there are several elements to this, but I want to give you a quick answer, I’d love Colonel Callahan to come in behind me on this. I think the elements that I would suggest are common ground that any state in our state for obvious reasons in particular has been able to find what the administration and the federal government is a general matter. I think it also depends on the relationship you have with the particular FEMA region.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:19:19)
In our case, region two and Tom Van Essen is the guy who runs it. Number three, as Pat Callahan may have mentioned, I think he did the Army Corps matters here and the relationship with FEMA does matter and Sandy experience actually is relevant at many levels including some of the specific players who are still on the scene who are now working with us. So I think it takes and I hear this all the time. I have nothing to do with this because it’s Pat and Judy and their teams. I heard this from the General who’s up from Georgia this morning. He said, “You all have a really, you know the rock is a unique asset. You’ve got really good people, you’ve got a war room mentality.” Keeping the barriers low between parts of government is a huge part of the mantra that we’ve tried to execute on from day one in peace time as well as in a challenge like this.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:20:16)
So the fluidity of the relationship between Judy and her team just to pick and Pat and his team or when Lamont’s making a decision about shutting schools. The fact that matter is people get around one table. That all matters I think in our ingredients into having a good relationship. Pat.
I would agree Governor, I think across all the pillars of emergency management, we are shoulder to shoulder with FEMA from preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation. It is a daily relationship and certainly Sandy assisted in that, but we’ve probably had, if I’m not mistaken, more than a dozen since Sandy while it was el derecho, straight line winds, flooding, Irene, snow storms, all of those come with it. The responsibility of doing preliminary damage assessments and then working through that public assistance and mitigation process to recover all of those federal dollars.
And again, whether it’s Tom Van Essen, Pete Gainer himself, and on this particular disaster, the federal coordinating officer who’s FEMA’s leading rep embedded at the rock is the retired major of emergency management from the state police. So you just couldn’t ask for a better combination to all strive to get to that goal of guiding us all through this crisis. So it’s a special team to be a part of, Elise.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:21:34)
I forgot Elise, my answer. That’s nice to have a guy who was a major in the New Jersey state police on the other team and Jared Maples has lived this. Dan Kelly in my office. These folks are known to each other and that helps. One more time.
The ventilator ethics guidelines. What is the status of that?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:22:03)
Ventilator ethics guidelines status.
Judy Persichilli: (01:22:07)
We have a professional advisory committee that’s looking at not just ventilators, but in a crisis mode. All of the types of decisions you make, admission, discharge criteria, admission discharge criteria to a field hospital, those types of medications that we need to have on hand to advise our team to make sure we have what we need and ventilator allocation and all medical allocation, medical treatment allocations are being discussed. So we will be coming out with some guidance for the individual hospitals. We do know at this point that mostly every hospital has their own guidance, what we call value based or ethical decision making process and we will be putting guidance on top of that to make sure that as a state, we are considering all of the special populations that we have and the types of decisions that have to be made.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:23:10)
Sorry about that. I forgot that question. But secondly, just as a general matter, when folks hear these questions and then they hear our answers, the point is not to shock people or make them feel uncomfortable. It is to give folks the confidence that while we are hoping for the best, we’re considering all alternatives, all paths, all considerations. We have to, we would be abrogating our responsibility if we did otherwise. As again, this is a war with two fronts. One front continues to be all 9 million of us pounding the heck out of that curve, staying at home, keeping away from each other and lessening the burden. The other front is making all the decisions, capacity and otherwise over here on the healthcare system, please God, the 9 million of us, the so many do the work over here so that the so few over here don’t have to deal with these eventualities. And we have the capacity that we need to be able to digest this crisis. So thank you again. Sorry I missed it. Nikita.
So I have a few for you today. I’m wondering, have you spoken with either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden about the issues that New Jersey faces as a result of this crisis? Have you gone to any of your predecessors in the governor’s office for advice on how to handle the same? And on compliance for either your Colonel Callahan, have there been any issues of election related noncompliance incidents, whether it be political events or canvassing or anything of the like? And then lastly, have there been any changes or are there any changes under consideration for safe haven laws in the state?
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:24:47)
For what, sorry?
For safe haven laws.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:24:49)
Okay. I have not spoken with either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. Nothing personal by the way. Just haven’t spoken with them. Want to make sure this isn’t one of them calling me right now. Predecessors, I’m sure I have, I’ll have to come back to that. I know I’ve gotten inputs from a lot of folks. I get that constantly. I’m sure that was one of them. I mostly have looked frankly, at models of what’s worked and what’s not worked in other challenging times in the past. So, Pat are you aware of any election related noncompliance?
I think I would be, and I’ve not heard of any.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:25:46)
Nor am I. I’m not at all. And safe haven laws. [inaudible 01:25:50] anything you want to add to that?
Speaker 3: (01:25:54)
No, I don’t think we’ve had any discussions on that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:25:56)
I don’t think we’ve had any, not that I’ve been a part of and I assume you would know, thank you. John.
To quickly follow up on some things Elise was asking about nursing homes. Is there a deadline for the nursing homes to disclose this information to you and if there’s any penalties to be assessed on that? And then I have questions regarding the decisions, Governor, you were talking to other governors about reopening things. What specific benchmarks are you looking at to make the decision about reopening things and the way things were shut down in New Jersey, it was a rolling into the full lockdown. Do you envision or have you discussed whether restrictions will be lifted all at once or eased into?
And again, have you in making these decisions and talking about them, have you thought about how you’re going to do this again if needed, if there’s a bounce back in the virus? And again, following up on the New Jersey transit questions, is there any consideration at all to halting New Jersey transit services if especially in the crowded bus lines that social distancing can’t be maintained and given the staffing shortages, there’s almost I think 800 or so employees on quarantine and several ill? And again on the developmental disability in the psychiatric hospitals. Is there widespread testing of employees right now are just symptomatic employees? And can you give any specifics about the Hatteras Printing Company? How that donation came to be, who did it and awhile back you signed an executive order about providing hospitals required-
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:27:35)
You’re starting to sound a lot like Brent.
There’s a lot of questions. You signed an executive order for this hospital to provide information to you guys and you said that would at some point be made public, can you provide the daily updates in terms of hospitalization, ICUs all that in the charts that you presented at the beginning because people are really wondering how many people are sick, are they getting better? What’s it looking like? And that’s one of the biggest questions we’re getting for that kind of information.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:28:05)
Let me hit a couple. And then Judy. I almost don’t even like talking about lifting restrictions because we’re not even close. So we just say that as everybody watching stay at home.