State Officials Look Overseas for Guidance in COVID-19 Battle

The Murphy Administration is taking a far and wide approach when it comes to receiving advice on how to handle the coronavirus.

One of those path’s took the state’s top health official to a place Gov. Phil Murphy knows well: Germany.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli reported she recently held discussions with Germany’s Minister of Health Jens Spahn about their efforts in containing COVID-19 and tracking the virus throughout their country.

Gov. Murphy served as the United States Ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013, serving under President Barack Obama.

The Germany Way

Understanding how Germany handled the situation was useful to Persichilli as she said the country enacted strict social distancing in the same way New Jersey did and are beginning to lift the restrictions. 

“They have developed a very slow opening of some small stores, book shops, and car dealerships, places that can safely social distance,” she noted. “They took this action after closely monitoring the spread of the virus in their country.”

Another common denominator was the government’s emphasis on the importance of robust testing to help to quickly identify new cases— using a team of five officers for every 20,000 members of the community—as well as their contacts, so they can be isolated immediately. 

Informed Experience

“Their experience can inform our efforts as we look ahead, to ease some of our social distancing restrictions in the state, and increase our testing capacity,” said Persichilli. “When that time comes, it is vital that we don’t forget all that we have learned. We will still need to take steps to protect our health and the health of others, particularly vulnerable populations at greater risk of hospitalization and death.”

The state plans to release a plan April 27 offering principles and parameters that will guide officials in terms “of responsibly beginning to take steps to reopen, whenever that may come,” said Murphy.

“I will remind you again that having a robust and accessible testing program in place is not only a great need for the here and now, but it will be a great need and a requirement, in fact, for the weeks to come,” stayed Murphy. 

“This is a key element that we must have in place,” Murphy continued. “As I’ve said, ensuring the public’s health must come before we can begin restarting our economy.”

COVID-19 Death total Nears 10K

As of April 26, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 109,038 with 3,515 new cases and 75 new deaths, bringing that total to 5,938. 

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,023, followed by Bergen with 955, Hudson at 661, Passaic at 426, Morris at 351, Sussex at 92 and Warren with 65.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 49% white, 22% black, 17% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 6% another race. For 40,309 hospitalizations that were tracked, the breakdown was 36% white, 20% black, 18% hispanic, 5% Asian and 11% another race. 

Black and Hispanic communities were running about 50% more than their population in the state. The governor recently signed legislation mandating hospitals report age, gender, ethnicity and race of people who have tested COVID-19 positive or died from the virus.

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 60% had cardiovascular disease, 42% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 15% neurological conditions, 11% cancer and 13% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen is still the primary hot spot in the state with 14,965 total cases, followed by Hudson at 13,708, Essex at 12,863, Union at 11,853, Passaic at 11,137, Middlesex at 10,075, Ocean at 5,962, Monmouth at 5,671, Morris at 4,976, Mercer at 3,355, Somerset at 3,144, Camden at 2,983, Burlington at 2,333, Gloucester at 976, Sussex at 855, Warren at 778, Atlantic at 638, Hunterdon at 536, Cumberland at 520, Cape May at 281 and Salem at 181. 

Another 681 cases under investigation to determine where the person resides.

Long-term Care Facilities

The state noted 472 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and the facilities have accounted for 15,512 of the cases and 1,865 of the total deaths confirmed with an additional 981 under investigation. 

In a by-county breakdown, Bergen’s 59 facilities had 2,840 residents test positive with 589 total deaths, Essex’s 45 facilities had 1,567 residents test positive with 353 total deaths, Hudson’s 12 facilities had 652 residents test positive with 119 total deaths, Morris’s 36 facilities had 1,066 residents test positive with 229 total deaths, Passaic’s 24 facilities had 851 residents test positive with 163 total deaths, Sussex’s five facilities had 255 residents test positive with 58 total deaths and Warren’s six facilities had 249 residents test positive with 45 total deaths. 

State Testing

The state has processed 200,756 coronavirus tests of symptomatic individuals since the outbreak began, with 44% testing positive for COVID-19. The state estimates between 7,000-9,000 tests are processed a day with test results returning in about a week.

Officials reported 6,573 patients were hospitalized with coronavirus and 684 discharged on April 25. There are currently 79 patients in field hospitals, with 319 discharged from those outposts overall. Of those hospitalized, 1,804 are in intensive care units and 1,418 are on ventilators. 

Housing Order

Additionally, the governor signed an executive order protecting access to hotels and motels for individuals without permanent housing. The order clarifies that municipalities and counties may not impose restrictions in response to COVID-19 on the ability of hotels and motels to accept any individuals who have no permanent housing

“Providing our most vulnerable populations with access to safe accommodations during this crisis is both the right thing to do and a matter of public health,” said Murphy. “This order will help keep more New Jerseyans safe during this pandemic.”

Clarifying Previous Ruling

The order clarifies that individuals who have no permanent housing to which they may safely or lawfully return and live at a hotel or motel on a continual basis are not considered “transient guests or seasonal tenants,” and thus are entitled to the protections against evictions. 

“Vulnerable individuals should have access to the same options as all New Jerseyans in order to self-isolate or social distance while we continue to flatten the curve,” said Col. Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Housing resources should continue to be available as we battle this virus.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.