New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy reported that another 2,492 new positive coronavirus test results have been received by the state over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed positives in the state to 6,876. Officials said 436 of those positive results are from the two statewide testing sites in Bergen and Monmouth counties.
Nineteen more residents of the state have died, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 81.
The state received positive test results for 28 more residents in Mercer County, bringing the county total to 111. County officials are not releasing a breakdown of the cases by municipality.
Murphy urged residents to continue to follow the stay at home directive.
“Please think of others across our state, let alone within your own family whose lives that you depend on doing the smart thing and the right thing. Don’t think that because you feel fine after a few days or even five or six or seven days that it is safe to resume your previous normal lifestyle. It’s not,” he said.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said officials continue to see older residents and people with underlying conditions to be more severely impacted by COVID-19. Long-term care facilities are particularly ar risk because of the populations they serve, Persichilli said.
“We are still seeing more of our long-term facilities being infected,” Persichilli said. “Right now, there are 43 of our 375 long-term care facilities with at least one resident being reported as positive for COVID-19.”
Residents at St. Joseph’s in Woodbridge have been transferred to another facility. At least 24 residents there and five staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been three deaths among residents there.
Three deaths in the state over the past 24 hours were associated with long-term care facilities, Persichilli said.
Asked by reporters what happens if hospitals in the state don’t have enough ventilators to take care of residents, Persichilli said the state is working with the Medical Society of New Jersey to put together a committee to look at bioethical considerations regarding the availability of lifesaving equipment like ventilators.
The New Jersey Department of Corrections has three new confirmed employee cases of COVID-19 involving officers. One officer operates our of central reception, while the other two officers work at the Adult Diagnostic Treatment Center. The employees have not come in contact with inmates, officials said.
The state has received confirmed positive test results from labs for more than 19,300 residents of the state. The positive rate from those results is 31.7 percent.
Murphy said on Saturday, March 28, the Bergen Community College and PNC Bank Arts Center testing centers will only accept symptomatic health care workers and first responders. The general public will not be able to access these sites on Saturday. Starting on Sunday, March 29, the Bergen Community College and PNC Bank Arts Center testing center sites will move to a new schedule that will be posted on covid19.nj.gov. Each day they are open, the sites will collect 500 samples. Murphy said starting on Saturday, April 4, the PNC Bank Arts Center site will be dedicated to symptomatic health care workers and first responders with valid credentials only, every Saturday. The general public will not be able to access this site on Saturdays.
“We are taking this extraordinary step to preserve the health and safety of the tremendous women and men working these sites,” Murphy said.
All decisions about when schools re-open will be made by the governor. School districts and other educational institutions don’t get to make a determination themselves. Murphy said state officials won’t revisit plans to open schools across the state until at least April 17.
“The decision rests with yours truly. We will revisit school closures April 17 at the very earliest,” Murphy said. “I appreciate that everyone is anxious to get back but we will not do this piecemeal. We will do this together.”
State officials are still working to obtain enough protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders, Murphy said. People can donate equipment to covid19.nj.gov/ppedonations.
The state set up a jobs portal to match essential employers with people who are looking for jobs at covid19.nj.gov. More than 35,000 job openings have been posted by more than 300 essential employers. Since the state set up the website on Monday, the portal has been accessed by 230,000 job seekers, Murphy said. “This shows the very best of New Jersey,” he said. “We know from the response that hundreds of thousands want to keep working and be a part of our response. Our business community is also stepping up in a big way. This is just one example of how we are going to get through this together and emerge stronger than ever before.”
Murphy urged residents to pull together as a diverse family and again for the second time this week criticized discrimination aimed at Asian Americans and Jewish people. He said scapegoating or bullying won’t be tolerated and is morally wrong, adding, “There is a special place in hell for the very small minority that do that.”
“Our diversity is one of, if not our greatest, source of strength. Our diversity of cultures and religions is one of our hallmarks as a state. We take enormous pride in that,” Murphy said. “So I take great offense, as do the overwhelming amount of our residents when a small group of people does things like going on social media to scapegoat others who worship differently or look differently from them.”