Ninety-one more residents of the state have died as a result of complications from the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total number of deaths related to COVID-19 to 355.
A somber Gov. Phil Murphy reported the deaths at his daily press briefing on Wednesday. One of the deaths was Teaneck resident Janice Preschel, the founder of the decade-old Helping Hands Food Pantry.
“They lost a true woman of valor,” Murphy said, echoing a statement by the mayor of Teaneck.
Three residents of Mercer County have died as a result of complications from COVID-19 since Sunday. One was identified by the Trentonian as a Trenton resident who was at a long-term care facility in Plainsboro. Two of the deaths were reported on Wednesday.
The state received 3,649 positive test results on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed positive test results in the state to 22,255. The state received 53 new positive test results in Mercer County Wednesday, bringing the total positives for Mercer County to 333. Princeton had a total of 28 positive cases as of late afternoon Tuesday.
Murphy said the state is receiving test results that are seven to 12 days old. It will be another week before the impact of the state stay-at-home order is seen in reported test results, he said.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state is seeing an increased demand on the healthcare system.
“It looks like the surge is beginning to occur in the northern part of the state,” Persichilli said. “Last night, seven hospitals in the northern part of the state reported to the Department of Health that they were on divert status. That was divert status for various reasons, some due to overcrowding in their emergency rooms and some due to overall high census. We also got a call from two hospitals that they required ventilators…We were able to support those needs. We are able to secure 350 additional ventilators to be delivered today. And we certainly need them.”
Persichilli said that due to the activity in the northern part of the state, officials are looking at possible alternative care sites. A field hospital will open at the Meadowlands Convention Center next week. Lower-acuity hospital patients will be transferred to the field hospital, Persichilli said. The governor will visit the pop-up hospital on Thursday.
All four of the state’s psychiatric hospitals have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Three patients and three staff members at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital have tested positive, Persichilli said.
Ninety-three long-term care facilities in the state have at least one confirmed COVID-19 case, including facilities in Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties, Persichilli said.
Murphy said the state has bought nearly 10 million pieces of personal protective equipment for hospital workers and first responders. The state bought the equipment on its own, spending tens of millions of dollars. “There is no price too high to save a life, and there is not price too high to protect our healthcare workers and those on the front lines of the battlefield we find ourselves on,” he said. “These products will be hitting our warehouses in waves in the coming weeks and will be used to backfill the depleted supply chains of our healthcare networks. We have their backs, and we will not let them fail.”
The statewide testing center at Bergen County Community College in Paramus will be open Thursday starting at 8 a.m. The testing center in Holmdel will be closed on Thursday, Murphy said.
He also announced that the deadline to file state taxes has been extended to July 15, and the fiscal year for the state has been extended to September 30. The deadline for college students to apply for financial aid for tuition through the FAFSA program for the 2020-21 academic year has been extended from April 15 to June 1.
The Economic Development Authority’s application window for its newly created small business assistance grant program will open at 9 a.m. this Friday, April 3. The grant program is intended to help small businesses that need grants for their survival. Visit cv.business.nj.gov or covid19.nj.gov to apply.
Murphy reported that as of Wednesday, 5,200 healthcare professionals have stepped forward to help out during the crisis. Nurses, doctors, and EMTs who want to sign up can fill out a form online.