(The Center Square) – New Jersey officials hope to have 2,360 new hospital beds ready as the number of coronavirus cases are continuing to increase.
The state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately open 250 beds at the Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus. The state hopes to have 500 beds at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison and 250 beds at the Atlantic City Convention Center ready in the next few weeks.
Another 1,360 will come from opening closed hospital wings, and the Department of Health is also working to reopen closed hospitals. The state currently has 18,533 acute care beds and 2,000 for critical care, according to information from Gov. Phil Murphy.
“At this moment, our hospital networks, while they are under tremendous stress, are currently meeting the needs of the patients who require hospitalization,” Murphy said. “But we must be ready for the time when the surge comes and this is no longer the case.”
New Jersey has received $1.9 million to help the state’s 24 health centers with screening and testing and medical supplies, Murphy said.
New Jersey has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. with 4,402, according to the numbers released Wednesday. An additional 18 deaths were attributed to the virus on Thursday, bringing the total number of coronavirus fatalities to 62.
“But we have a quarter the population of California,” Murphy said.
About 90 percent of the testing facilities have reported their numbers to the state. Out of 14,000 tests, about 29 percent of them are positive, Murphy said. The number was 27 percent on Wednesday.
Essex County is opening a drive-through testing facility for their residents on Thursday.
The governor reiterated his plea for New Jersey residents to stay at home, saying his work from home order was not a “polite suggestion.”
So many residents called a hotline set up to report violations of the work from home directive, the system crashed. A page on the state’s COVID-19 website has been set up for residents to report violations.
Murphy announced a new order on Wednesday that requires child care centers to close by April 1 unless they are only caring for children of essential workers.
The governor said he would be “the happiest guy in New Jersey” if he could begin to open up the economy and society, but he didn’t see that happening “too far down the road.”
“I think the order of business is pretty clear to us – that we break the back of the coronavirus first,” Murphy said. “And then we begin to open up our economy and society. If we somehow transpose those steps and we begin to prematurely open things up, I believe we only throw gasoline on the fire of the virus and we pay a far bigger price down the road.”