RANDOLPH, N.J. – Assemblywoman Aura Dunn called upon Gov. Phil Murphy and members of his administration to provide New Jerseyans with additional details about his plans to drastically expand hospital bed capacity in anticipation of the possible surge in coronavirus or COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks.
“The time for these answers on how the state government will handle a worst-case scenario of nearly 200,000 virus patients is far past due,” said Dunn (R-Morris). “Governor Murphy needs to share this information now so we can prepare.”
A Rutgers University report released last week shows that Dunn’s home county of Morris is expected to reach its hospital bed capacity as early as the last week of April and is facing a possible shortfall of over 11,000 beds.
“Lack of transparency tends to stir its own panic,” continued Dunn. “Now is the time for preparation and leadership.”
According to the study, Morris is expected to be one of 13 counties to hit capacity prior to the end of April with the rest of the state hitting its capacity by mid-May.
New Jersey’s coronavirus outbreak surged to 16,636 cases Monday with 198 deaths and 3,347 new positive tests.
Four pop-up hospitals will open across the state to relieve some of the pressure on existing health care facilities, which include the Meadowlands Exposition Center, the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison and the Atlantic City Convention Center. A fourth location has not been identified.
These facilities – to be opened by the state in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency – will be overseen by the three level-one trauma center hospitals: University Hospital in Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
Dunn believes that there could be more options available for patient bed space and proper care for both virus patients and other patients who will need emergency care from non-COVID causes and noted the four pop-up facilities are all far from her district.
She asked to have the Department of Higher Education inquire about the possible use of public and private universities and other large facilities to boost capacity, and if state officials have worked with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs on bed space at Lyons VAMC and the East Orange campus.
“I’m a former Girl Scout leader and two of our watch phrases were: Be Prepared and Be Honest. New Jerseyans are owed honest answers from their elected representatives about their preparations for the next weeks, not silence which breeds doubt, confusion, rumors and fear,” concluded Dunn.