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Deadly Impact of COVID-19 on Nursing Homes Leads Assembly to Unanimously Pass PPE Stockpile Legislation

Nursing homes and long-term care (LTC) facilities have been extremely hard hit by COVID-19. In response, the state Assembly unanimously passed legislation requiring facilities to be better prepared for future public health emergencies.

The bill (A-4282/A-4150) requires licensed facilities to maintain sufficient inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE). Supply requirements will depend on the number of facilities owned by a health system.

Facilities Hard Hit

Statistics show almost half of the state’s COVID-19 related deaths, almost 6,800, were connected to nursing homes or LTC facilities. It’s estimated that 25,000 residents and 13,000 employees contracted the disease.

“We have lost so many people living in nursing homes and people working on the front line taking care of those with COVID-19,” said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26). “We cannot allow this suffering to continue. We must protect those who cannot protect themselves and those who sacrifice their safety to make sure we are healthy.”

Requirements Include Hospitals

Health care systems with eight or more facilities will be required to have a 30-day supply of PPE. Those with less than eight facilities would be required to have a 60-day stockpile.

Hospitals would be required to maintain a 90-day supply of PPE at all times.

If a public health emergency is declared, nursing homes, LTC facilities and hospitals would be required to evaluate their PPE supplies. And, if needed, they must secure additional supplies.

“Long-term care centers should never be without an appropriate stockpile of PPE. We must make sure these facilities are better prepared to protect residents and staff should we see a second wave of COVID-19, and for future public health emergencies,” said Assemblymembers Nancy Pinkin (D-18), Robert Karabinchak (D-18), Daniel Benson (D-14) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) in a joint statement.

At Risk for Fines

Under the legislation, the New Jersey Department of Health would be permitted to impose fines against facilities that violate the requirements.

Masks, gloves, face shields and sanitizers are critical to mitigating the spread of COVID-19; without them, the virus spreads rapidly. Unfortunately, limited access to these supplies led to the devastating outbreaks that we saw happen in our long-term care facilities,” said Pinkin, Karabinchak, Benson and Vainieri Huttle.

Daily Data

As of Oct. 2, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 206,629 with 796 new cases and four new deaths, bringing that total to 14,344. The state probable death is 1,787, bringing the overall total to 16,131.

State officials noted nine deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,899, followed by Bergen at 1,804, Hudson with 1,358, Passaic at 1,115, Morris at 686, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 241, Essex has 229, Hudson has 160, Morris at 144, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Sept. 28 was 2.5%. By region, the North has a rate of 2.1%, Central at 2.9% and the South at 2.6%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. 

As for the rate of transmission, rising to 1.19 from 1.16 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 528 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 231 in the North, 141 in the Central and 156 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 94 are in intensive care units and 36 on ventilators, while 41 patients were discharged.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 22,633, followed by Essex at 21,201, Hudson at 20,804, Middlesex at 19,766, Passaic at 19,161, Union at 17,789, Ocean at 13,898, Monmouth at 12,081, Camden at 10,035, Mercer at 8,686, Morris at 7,941, Burlington at 7,248, Somerset at 5,873, Gloucester at 4,729, Atlantic at 4,167, Cumberland at 3,809, Sussex at 1,526, Warren at 1,453, Hunterdon at 1,367, Salem at 1,085 and Cape May at 1,035.

Another 342 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 11 outbreaks involving 43 cases have been reported in seven of the 21 counties in the Garden State. For North Jersey, Bergen County has one confirmed outbreak with three cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, and Sussex County has one confirmed outbreak with two cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 155 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 6,217 of the cases, broken down between 3,822 residents and 2,395 staff. 

Cumulatively, 730 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,170 residents and 13,655 staff, for a total of 38,825 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,165 on Oct. 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,789 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths. 

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