Gov. Phil Murphy Makes Coronavirus Aid Case Directly to President Trump

Gov. Phil Murphy took the state’s case for federal aid needed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis directly to President Donald Trump on April 30.

The governor said in an Oval Office meeting with the President that the coronavirus could cost the state up to $30 billion, and federal aid was needed to make up for the losses.

“This is to allow us to keep firefighters, teachers, police, EMS, on the payroll serving the communities in their hour of need,” Murphy said.

Aid, Not Bailout

The first-term Democratic governor did not see the aid being asked for as a bailout, which Trump and other members of the Republican have characterized it as recently.

“We see this as a partnership of doing the right thing in what is the worst healthcare crisis in the history of our nation,” said Murphy, who thanked Trump for the help his administration has given in responding to the state’s needs. 

Trump Noncommittal

Trump didn’t say whether he would support Murphy’s financial request, although he said the state couldn’t “have a better representative than this man. He has really stepped up to the plate.” 

“That’s a tough question because you’re talking about the states and whether you call it a bailout or a lot of money,” Trump said.

Murphy, later at his daily briefing back in New Jersey, said he made the case to the President that the state was on its way to having its financial house back in order prior to the current crisis. 

“We didn’t hear a ‘heck no’,” responded Murphy on feedback from the President.

$30 Billion Price Tag

The governor confirmed his administration estimates COVID-19 will cost NJ $20 billion to $30 billion through June 30, 2021, due to “a combination of major revenue hits and expenses,” like police, fire and teachers.

Murphy did not leave Washington empty handed, however. The federal government agreed to send 550,000 testing kits and 750,000 swabs to New Jersey, something the governor characterized as a critical development when it comes to having a testing program in the state.

“Having a robust testing program is not just a key thing in the here and now, but a key principle for us being able to get back on the road to recovery,” stated Murphy.

20,000 Daily Tests

The kits and swabs will allow the state to increase the output to at least 20,000 tests a day, stated the governor.

Additionally, the state will receive a shipment of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers at 350 New Jersey nursing homes, which includes about 22,000 masks, 19,000 goggles, 200,000 gowns, and 1 million gloves.

Daily Death Record

The news comes on a day where the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 118,652 with 2,633 new cases and 460 new deaths, bringing that total to 7,228. The 460 deaths were a new one-day high, which Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli was a result of officials reviewing death records and adding past cases to the totals.

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,186, followed by Bergen with 1,136, Hudson at 798, Passaic at 573, Morris at 413, Sussex at 103 and Warren with 82.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 52% white, 20% black, 17% hispanic, 5% Asian and 5% another race. For 40,309 hospitalizations that were tracked, the breakdown was 36% white, 20% black, 18% hispanic, 5% Asian and 11% another race. 

Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state and vowed that any plan to reopen the state will work to reduce racial inequities in healthcare. 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% chronic diseases, 16% chronic renal disease, 15% neurological conditions, 11% cancer and 13% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

A census of ages for 5,062 confirmed deaths shows 46% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 17% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49. 

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen still has the most cumulative cases in the state with 15,610, followed by Hudson at 14,916, Essex at 13,682, Union at 12,578, Passaic at 12,449, Middlesex at 11,715, Ocean at 6,375, Monmouth at 6,033, Morris at 5,287, Mercer at 3,937, Camden at 3,519, Somerset at 3,464, Burlington at 2,690, Gloucester at 1,251, Atlantic at 964, Sussex at 921, Warren at 903, Cumberland at 723, Hunterdon at 603, Cape May at 323 and Salem at 231.

Another 478 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

The amount of days it takes for a county to double its cases in all 21 counties continue to trend up, with cases in the South doubling at a faster pace than the rest of the state, according to Murphy. In North Jersey, it has taken more than 30 days to double in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Esex, Sussex and Morris counties, while the rate in Passaic is 22.5 days and in Warren 21 days.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 497 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 18,533 of the cases and 3,376 of the total deaths. 

In a by-county breakdown, Bergen’s 62 facilities had 3,411residents test positive with 659 total deaths, Essex’s 44 facilities had 1,726 residents test positive with 388 total deaths, Morris’s 41 facilities had 1,196 residents test positive with 277 total deaths, Hudson’s 15 facilities had 766 residents test positive with 137 total deaths, Passaic’s 25 facilities had 1,018 residents test positive with 183 total deaths, Sussex’s five facilities had 287 residents test positive with 76 total deaths and Warren’s seven facilities had 252 residents test positive with 45 total deaths. 

State Testing

The state has processed 222,241 coronavirus tests of symptomatic individuals since the outbreak began, with 42% testing positive for COVID-19. Murphy noted that percentage has been “drifting down” for the past week. The state estimates between 9,000-11,000 tests are processed a day with results returning in about a week.

Officials reported 6,157 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus—which included 502 new hospitalizations—while 514 patients were discharged. State officials noted discharge numbers going forward will not include those who have died. 

Persichilli said hospitalizations are continuing to decrease in the North, remaining steady in the Central tier—although hospitals there are “stressed”—and slightly rising in the South. Of new cases reported, Middlesex had the most, followed by Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Union and Mercer, which Murphy said showed how the cases are moving south.

There are currently 50 patients in field hospitals, with 373 treated overall. Of those hospitalized, 1,765 are in intensive care units and 1,271 are on ventilators. 

DOC, NJT Testing

Additionally, the governor announced the expansion of testing for two frontline workforces.

Murphy reported universal testing for inmates and staff at the Department of Corrections is expected to start as early as the end of next week. The testing will be done in partnership between the department and Rutgers University.

Meanwhile, NJ Transit employees will have access to testing at the American Dream site in East Rutherford through an agreement with Agile Urgent Care and Accurate Diagnostics Lab. Transit employees will be accepted for appointment-only testing at the site which opened on April 13 and is currently geared toward first responders and frontline healthcare workers 

“With increased access to testing, we can ensure the health and safety of NJ Transit’s workforce and build public confidence in our mass-transit system, as our economy begins to reopen in the weeks ahead.” said Murphy. 

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