New Jersey

NJ Gov. Calls National Guard to Long-Term Care Facilities Hard Hit by Coronavirus

Gov. Phil Murphy is calling on the New Jersey National Guard to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus in long-term-care facilities

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What to Know

  • More than 1 million New Jerseyans have filed for jobless benefits since the start of the deadly coronavirus outbreak and social-distancing measures were put into place in March.
  • New Jersey has reported the second most COVID-19 cases with at least 133,635 confirmed cases and at least 8,801 deaths as of Thursday.
  • Gov. Phil Murphy is also calling on 120 New Jersey National Guard members to assist at hard-hit long-term care facilities.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is calling on the National Guard to assist in slowing the spread of the deadly new coronavirus in hard-hit long-term care facilities.

Starting this weekend, more than 120 members of the New Jersey National Guard will head to the care facilities to help out, Murphy said at a Thursday news conference. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers are among the long-term care facilities in the state.

About half of the state's coronavirus deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities.

"We don't take this step lightly but we take it because the crisis in our long-term care facilities require us to take it," Murphy said.

The troops are non-health professionals who will be filling in whatever needs the facilities need, Murphy said.

The services could include janitorial services, cooking and logistics, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

About two dozen Guard members will be heading to the Andover Subacute & Rehab Center Friday, Persichilli said. That large North Jersey facility was at one point a focal point of the deadly outbreak.

Health officials and Murphy didn't note what other facilities would get assistance from the Guard.

All of New Jersey's roughly 400 nursing homes have at least one positive case of the virus, according to the New Jersey Health Department.

The New Jersey Department of Human Services is also now going to deploy its Medicaid transportation provider to transport coronavirus-positive residents between long-term care facilities and hospitals, Murphy said.

More COVID-19 Cases, Deaths Reported

New Jersey is among the worst-hit states by COVID-19. There were nearly 134,000 cases and at least 8,801 deaths as of Thursday afternoon.

Murphy noted that while the state reported nearly 2,000 more COVID-19 cases, the spread of the virus is continuing to trend down.

As of late Wednesday night, COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Jersey had dropped below 5,000, about a 40% drop from three weeks ago. While Murphy said the milestone was a good sign for the health system, it is still far too high of a number.

"We still have far too many New Jerseyans in the hospital," the Democrat said.

Murphy has said trends need to head in the right direction for at least 14 days before the state can consider reopening.

“While we're seeing good signs we cannot lull ourselves into thinking all is well. We are still in the midst of a public health emergency," Murphy said.

NJ Jobless Claims at 1M; $2B Paid Out Since Outbreak Began

New Jersey is dealing with an unprecedented unemployment crisis as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread in the Garden State, Murphy said.

"This is a health crisis like we've never seen before and an economic crisis like we've never seen before," Murphy said.

More than 1 million New Jersey residents have filed for jobless benefits and the state has paid out about $2 billion since the coronavirus outbreak hit in March, state labor officials announced Thursday.

"This is an unemployment crisis unlike that we have ever seen before," Murphy said at his Thursday news briefing.

The state Labor and Workforce Development Department said the number of claims is “by far the most ever recorded” over a similar time frame. The week ending May 2 saw 88,000 new claims, up from 72,000 the week before.

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement that the 1 million claim milestone was “staggering” and that they never thought they’d reach such a figure in so short a time.

Murphy acknowledged that some are "frustrated" by not getting payments and other issues and that everyone would need to get through it together.

In response to the jobs situation, New Jersey has launched a "work" website where people can get their questions answered about benefits and connected with a job portal, Murphy said.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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