As the state continues to close malls, searches for more hospital beds and shuts down schools to encourage social distancing, Gov. Phil Murphy formally requested more help from the federal government.
Murphy is asking for the support of the United States military and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist New Jersey’s efforts to expand hospital and intensive care unit capacity in preparation for the continued spread of COVID-19.
The governor’s request was made in a letter sent to President Donald Trump in response to the President’s comments that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is “ready, willing, and able” to pursue such efforts.
National Security Issue
“This public health crisis is a direct threat to our national security and the safety of our people, and the Northeast region, which is the densest region by population in America, is the most susceptible to a virus that rapidly transmits among individuals,” said Governor Murphy in his letter.
“By working together to identify buildings that can serve as facilities to provide emergency and intensive care, we can save many thousands of lives.”
The New Jersey National Guard and the Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli are currently working on efforts to expand New Jersey’s hospital capacity, according to the governor. Additionally, Persichilli is working with hospitals in the state to examine the feasibility of reopening shuttered hospital wings and hospitals.
A Rutgers study found New Jersey lacks the number of hospital beds needed to accommodate the expected thousands of coronavirus patients who will need inpatient care.
Short 313,000 Beds
The letter cites estimates from the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers-Camden that New Jersey could be facing a peak shortfall of anywhere from 123,000 to 313,000 hospital beds, sometime between May and October. Currently, there are roughly 23,000 hospital beds across 71 hospitals in New Jersey, with 55% of these beds being occupied.
The Rutgers analysis notes New Jersey may need an additional 2,000 critical care beds in the next two weeks. The sickest patients are expected to need hospitalization of between seven to 14 days.
Gov. Murphy’s letter, which highlighted the extensive social distancing efforts he has ordered to slow the spread of COVID-19, reiterated his call for additional supplies to support health care workers on the front lines of statewide response efforts.
“Additionally, even as we identify and secure additional facilities, those efforts will be futile unless we have the personal protective equipment needed to allow health care workers to operate and the ventilators that are needed to treat patients,” added Gov. Murphy. “I urge you to assist us as we seek to rapidly expand these critical supplies.”