The full New Jersey Assembly passed a bill designed to assess and approve personal protective equipment (PPE) and bolster two stockpiles of the life-saving medical equipment.
A-4803/A-4811, which passed 72-0, is designed to give the Garden State a better state of preparedness for future public health emergencies. The experience gained during the COVID-19 pandemic would be leveraged in the planning.
“Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of personal protective equipment continues to be a concern in New Jersey,” said Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter (D-35), one of the sponsors of the bill, in a press statement. “Healthcare workers use masks, gloves, and other supplies to protect themselves and their patients when providing care. PPE shortages in hospitals and nursing homes can lead to devastating health outcomes.”
A Plan for Agencies to Follow
Under the bill, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM) would consult with the Economic Development Authority and New Jersey Department of Health to create a process of screening and evaluating PPE.
Additionally, the Director of the Division of Purchase and Property would be involved in awarding a contract to develop two stockpiles of PPE. The stockpiles would be divided into federally-approved PPE and OEM-approved PPE.
The stockpiles would be gradually filled to a capacity determined by the agencies. At least a third of capacity would be filled each year.
A Focus on NJ Products and Autonomy
Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) noted there would be an emphasis on NJ- and U.S.-made products. To the extent possible, 50% of each stockpile would include NJ-made goods; at least 66% would consist of PPE made in the U.S.
Additionally, she argued the restructuring would help New Jersey to better adapt to emerging public health crises by controlling its own destiny in some respects.
“We shouldn’t solely rely on the federal government to approve New Jersey businesses transitioning from manufacturing one type of product to producing much-needed personal protective equipment,” said DeCroce. “If the state’s Office of Emergency Management had that authority we would have been in a much better place.”
As of Nov. 6, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 249,380 with 2,199 total new cases reported and 12 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,616. The state listed probable deaths at 1,800, bringing the overall total to 16,416.
For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 296 new cases, Bergen 230 new cases, Passaic 200 new cases, Hudson 190 new cases, Morris 90 new cases, Sussex 31 new cases and Warren 22 new cases.
State officials noted 14 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 1,922, followed by Bergen at 1,823, Hudson with 1,378, Passaic at 1,124, Morris at 696, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 245, Essex has 230, Hudson has 158, Morris at 145, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 1 was 7.7%. By region, the North has a rate of 8.7%, Central at 7.3 and the South at 6.5%. 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, it declined to 1.25 from 1.26 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 1,336 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 705 in the North, 322 in the Central and 309 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 274 are in intensive care units and 81 on ventilators, while 122 patients were discharged.
Essex Tops County Count
Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 26,608, followed by Bergen at 26,382, Hudson at 24,494, Middlesex at 23,539, Passaic at 22,126, Union at 21,604, Ocean at 17,348, Monmouth at 14,944, Camden at 12,662, Mercer at 9,774, Morris at 9,869, Burlington at 9,126, Somerset at 6,813, Gloucester at 6,008, Atlantic at 5,649, Cumberland at 4,159, Sussex at 1,845, Warren at 1,729, Hunterdon at 1,729, Salem at 1,226 and Cape May at 1,183.
Another 563 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 26 outbreaks involving 146 cases have been reported in 15 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, up from 28 outbreaks involving 122 cases a week previous. For North Jersey, Bergen County has five confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with four cases, Sussex County has two confirmed outbreaks with five cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, and Hudson County has one confirmed outbreak with four cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 194 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,550 of the cases, broken down between 2,511 residents and 2,039 staff.
Cumulatively, 848 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,758 residents and 14,312 staff, for a total of 40,070 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,235 on Nov. 6. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,863 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.