What to Know
- At least 10,138 people have now died from COVID-19-related complications since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
- Despite the number of fatalities, Gov. Phil Murphy said other figures show the virus’ curve coming down, including the number of hospitalizations falling, along with the use of ventilators and intensive care units to treat coronavirus patients.
- Elective surgeries can resume on May 26 with binding guidance in place.
New Jersey reached a somber milestone in the hard-hit state's coronavirus fight Friday as the death toll from COVID-19-related complications surpassed 10,000. The news comes as hospitalizations continue to decrease, allowing Gov. Phil Murphy to restart elective surgeries.
As of Friday, there have been at least 10,138 deaths related to the new coronavirus. More than 200 new deaths were reported Friday.
“We have crossed the number of 10,000 fatalities," Murphy said. “Think about that for a moment. That is a staggering number.”
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More than half of the deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, but reported CVOID-19 cases in the long-term care homes have been slowing.
Despite the somber milestone, trends in New Jersey are pointing toward a slow in the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Hospitalizations, along with the use of ventilators and intensive care units to treat coronavirus patients, have dropped below 4,000, with patients in field hospitals down to 42 as of late Thursday night.
The Democratic governor has noted a slowing of cases and hospitalizations in recent days, leading him to reopen Jersey Shore beaches and retailers to curbside pickup. He has said, however, that social distancing must remain in place to ensure COVID-19 cases don't jump again.
Murphy said his state "is not out of the woods yet," while noting nearly 300 people had entered the hospital on Thursday alone.
As of Friday, there were nearly 144,000 coronavirus cases reported in New Jersey.
Elective Surgeries to Resume
Starting on Tuesday, May 26, elective surgeries and other invasive procedures can resume, Murphy said.
Murphy is signing an executive order Friday that permits the medical procedures.
Murphy pointed to his own March 4 surgery that would have been considered elective to remove a cancerous tumor on his kidney.
“Elective surgery makes it sound like it's all a bunch of folks who want to get a nose job lined up,” he said. “This covers ... a broad range of procedures that are in some cases quite serious.”
The New Jersey Health Department and Division of Consumer Affairs will give binding guidance on elective surgeries by Monday. Part of those controls include testing patients ahead of surgery, masking and cleaning procedures, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
"This is a big step forward for public health," Murphy said while noting the strain on hospitals from COVID-19 has lessened.
Voting Mostly by Mail
On Friday, Murphy clarified how the delayed July 7 primary will be held. He said the U.S. Postal Service will be used for most votes, but that some in-person polling places will be open.
A limited number of in-person polling places will be open in each county to ensure anyone wanting to vote on July 7 can do so.
"All registered Democratic and Republican voters will receive a postage-paid vote-by-mail ballot," Murphy said. "All unaffiliated and inactive voters will receive a postage-paid vote-by-mail ballot application."
The deadline for when votes will be counted by county boards of election will be extended to seven days after election day.
Murphy called voting by mail a necessity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"No one should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote," Murphy said.
Federal Money Coming to NJ Transit
Murphy said he received a call from President Donald Trump about $1.4 billion in federal support will be going to New Jersey Transit.
Trump said the CARES Act funding will help keep people moving between New Jersey and New York.
Murphy thanked Trump.