Another unfortunate marker was reached in New Jersey as the number of cases reached the tens of thousands on March 29.
“We are now into five digits, as we predicted—at the pace we expected,” Gov. Phil Murphy, who has previously stated he expects the state to be dealing with the virus at least into May.
As of March 28, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey climbed to 11,124 with 2,289 new cases announced by the state and 32 new deaths, bringing that total to 140. The 32 new deaths include seven in Bergen and Union, five in Middlesex, three in Morris, two in Essex, Hudson, and Passaic and one each in Ocean, Somerset, Sussex and Warren.
“We will pay any price to save a life,” said Murphy. “ We are working to get the supplies we need, be it the National Stockpile or private sources.”
The New Jersey Department of Health released more background on the 140 who have died. Sixty-five percent of those who have passed were male, 35% female, ranging in age from 30 to 100; 76% were over 60 years of age.
Bergen is still the primary hot spot in the state with 1,838 total cases, followed by Essex at 1,086, Middlesex at 808, Monmouth at 781, Hudson at 771, Union at 742, Ocean at 624, Passaic at 608, Morris at 442, Somerset at 258, Mercer at 168, Camden at 123, Burlington at 115, Sussex at 81, Hunterdon at 61, Gloucester and Warren both at 51, Atlantic at 17, Cumberland at 11, Cape May at seven and Salem at three.
Another 928 cases remain under investigation to determine the location where the person resides.
Positive Test Rate
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said at least 29,822 coronavirus tests have been conducted by the state and commercial laboratories since the outbreak started. Tests have come back positive at a rate of 35%.
The commissioner revealed an unidentified hospital in North Jersey had to turn away cases due to personnel issues.
Looking for Help
Murphy reiterated his calls for anyone with medical training to help. State officials are asking retired healthcare workers as well as those with medical training with a surge in hospitalized patients expected by the middle of April.
“I’m putting out a call for volunteers with qualified medical training and experience who wish to join our fight against coronavirus,” stated Murphy. “Retired nurses or doctors, medical and nursing students, EMTs, former members of our armed services medical corp. Any of the above, all of the above. If you have training, we need you.”
The governor announced mortgage lenders will provide mortgage forbearance and financial protections for New Jerseyans facing economic hardship as a result COVID-19.
Features of the program for those eligible include a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments; no negative credit impacts resulting from relief; moratorium on initiating foreclosure sales or evictions; and relief from fees and charges.
“Families can breathe easier, keep their heads above water, and have a place they can continue to call home,” Murphy said.
Over 40 Banks
Over 40 other federal and state-chartered banks, credit unions and servicers will participate in the program, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. The program, which has the backing of the New Jersey Bankers Association, CrossState Credit Union Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey, is expected to have additional lenders join in the coming days.
The state previously imposed a moratorium on removing individuals from their homes pursuant to an eviction or foreclosure proceeding. Tenants cannot be asked to leave their homes for nonpayment of rent during this time.
Money for Healthcare
The mortgage program comes on the heels of two other new initiatives to assist healthcare organizations with expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state will authorize $140 million pre-payment to health care providers to support preparations related to COVID-19 and the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority launched a $6 million emergency loan program to assist New Jersey’s health care organizations during this time.
“These new funding sources will help our health care providers meet their needs during this critical time,” said the democratic governor. “Our administration and state agencies are working around the clock to pitch in to help during this crisis.”
The prepayment advances $67.3 million in charity care, $60.5 million in graduate medical education and $14.6 million for university hospital to support increasing capacity to meet the anticipated patient growth including workforce demands, supplies, and medications.
The COVID-19 Aid program is a $6 million loan program to offset some of the expenses incurred by this pandemic, including acquisition of any property, renovation of any building, any equipment purchases, including ventilators and personal protective equipment, hiring of any staff, consultants or temporary workers, or reopening formerly closed hospital beds/wings.
Principal payments would be required within 30 days of receipt of any COVID-19 Aid by the recipient health care organization in the amount of such COVID-19 Aid received, if any, until the loan is fully repaid.