Missing Social-Distancing Data Delays Modeling for COVID-19 Hospital Surge

JON HURDLE | MARCH 30, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Shoppers waited last week to enter a Southern California market, which was only letting in a few at a time.

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New Jersey hasn’t yet been able to model an anticipated surge in demand for hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients because it doesn’t have data on the effects of social distancing, but there are signs that hospitals will be able to cope, according to the state’s Commissioner of Health, Judith Persichilli.

The state’s health officials have been using CHIME, a tool for COVID-19 hospital capacity planning, which Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania issued in mid-March. The tool, which has been made available to health care providers in 150 countries via open-source software, allows users to input data including the percentage of infected patients who have been hospitalized; the number of patients currently hospitalized, and the population a hospital system serves.

The resulting model also relies on the degree to which social distancing has reduced social contact, and that data wasn’t yet available, Persichilli said at Gov. Phil Murphy’s Friday briefing on the pandemic.

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Trump wants ‘churches full’ on Easter. That’s not going to happen, N.J. religious leaders say.

Posted Mar 28, 2020

President Donald Trump said earlier this week he would like to see the country start lifting coronavirus restrictions by Easter Sunday, starting with allowing churches to welcome the faithful for services on Christianity’s holiest day of the year.

“Wouldn’t it be great to have all the churches full?” Trump said at a White House event Tuesday. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country … I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”

But with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise and Easter just two weeks away, some New Jersey religious leaders say Trump’s wish isn’t going to happen here.

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Murphy calls for anyone with medical training to join N.J.'s battle against coronavirus. ‘We need you.’

Posted Mar 27, 2020

State officials are asking retired health-care workers and anyone with medical training to help New Jersey’s medical system battle the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm it, with a surge in hospitalized patients expected by the middle of next month.

“I’m putting out a call for volunteers with qualified medical training and experience who wish to join our fight against coronavirus," Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday in Trenton at his daily coronavirus press briefing. “This isn’t just for New Jersey residents either. We’re looking across our nation for help.”

Brick-and-mortar hospitals are already busy with patients, and the state will need additional staffing to stand up the four temporary hospitals FEMA will set up around the state in the coming weeks, plus the closed Woodbury hospital that will reopen soon to offer additional hospital beds.

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ICE’s deadly indifference puts us all in danger | Editorial

Posted Mar 26, 2020

To give our hospitals a fighting chance against this pandemic, we are all upending our lives to stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact.

Yet at the same time, our government is crowding hundreds of immigrants arrested in President Trump’s indiscriminate sweeps into big rooms in New Jersey’s jails, a feeding ground for the virus – and a potential death trap. It defies logic.

Think this won’t affect the rest of us? Think again.

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Here’s how much N.J. will get in coronavirus relief funds in big federal stimulus bill

The federal stimulus bill expected to clear the U.S. House on Friday will provide $3.4 billion to New Jersey to help the state cope with the coronavirus.

The allocation comes from a $150 billion relief fund for states that is included the $2 trillion package, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive research group in Washington.

“We’re one of the hotspots in the country,” Murphy told KYW-TV Channel 3 in Philadelphia on Thursday. "We need all the help we can get.”

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Newark sets up $6M fund for residents, businesses losing money in coronavirus crisis

Posted Mar 25, 2020

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka plans to create a fund of up to $6 million with public and private money to help businesses, the homeless, arts organizations, homeowners and nonprofits amid the coronavirus crisis.

Six programs for different sectors will be introduced throughout the next few days, the mayor said Wednesday. Additional information about how people can apply for these funds will be unveiled in the coming days, a city spokesman said.

“The federal bailout will help some, but we need more and we can do more to help our city thrive,” Baraka said in a statement. “We need to take action right now, today to help the residents and small businesses weather this health emergency and continue to thrive once we are on the other side of it.”

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Rep. Pascrell: With COVID-19, we need a wartime president, not an incompetent TV personality

Posted Mar 25, 2020

By Bill Pascrell

President Trump’s press conferences are themselves spreading a pathogen – that of deliberate misinformation about the virus and the administration’s actions to stem it. It is obvious that these spectacles are designed as replacements for Trump’s rallies so he can bathe in fawning adulation, Rep. Bill Pascrell says.

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America today is at war but Americans do not have a wartime president. Our federal government is being led at the top not by a president but instead a man attempting to play a president on television.

Donald Trump’s tirade last week at a reporter and his continuing daily unfulfilled promises of strong action, miracle treatments, and rosy economic pronouncements are an affront to the public under siege. Trump’s press conferences are themselves spreading a pathogen – that of deliberate misinformation about the virus and the administration’s actions to stem it.

It is obvious that these spectacles are not designed to keep an anxious country informed but are merely replacements for Trump’s rallies so that he can bathe in fawning adulation and project the image of leadership without having to exercise any. Media members should stop attending these exhibitions and the networks should completely shut off their cameras so long as Trump uses them for nothing more than to spread his propaganda and lies.

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NJ Outlines Field Hospital Plan to Prepare for Surge of COVID-19 Patients

LILO H. STAINTON | MARCH 26, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Just as New Jersey is planning to use military muscle to set up COVID-19 field hospitals, New Hampshire is doing the same at Southern New Hampshire University. Sgt. Ryan Goyette is setting up temporary beds.

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy pledged Wednesday to spare no expense in saving lives from the coronavirus and promised to leave no patients “on the battlefield” in the state’s fight to win the war on the pandemic.

Critical to the state’s response are the four temporary “field hospitals” being planned by U.S. Army officials, the first of which Murphy said would be open within a week at the Meadowlands convention center in Secaucus.  Three other units will follow within roughly a month, he added, with two located at the massive convention complex in Edison and another at the Atlantic City Convention Center. Each will have roughly 250 beds.

While some hospitals — especially in hard-hit Bergen County — have reported being inundated, Murphy said most of the state’s acute-care facilities are “currently meeting the needs” of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or other medical conditions. Nearly 4,500 New Jersey residents have now tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and 62 have died.

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As coronavirus grows, Trump wants U.S. economy open by Easter. ‘I don’t see that,' Murphy says.

Posted Mar 24, 2020

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants to have the U.S. “opened up and just raring to go by Easter” — a little less than three weeks from now — despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he hopes Trump is right.

“But I’d be lying to you if I said I don’t see that,” the Democratic governor said during an appearance on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” on Tuesday night. “We’re trying to make our decisions based on data, science, facts. And the facts tell us: Aggressive social distancing."

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ICE detainees in N.J. ask courts for release as coronavirus spreads

Posted Mar 24, 2020

Attorneys are pushing in court to have U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees released from correctional facilities in New York and New Jersey to protect them from the coronavirus.

Different legal groups and individual attorneys have separately asked judges in New York and New Jersey federal courts to immediately release their clients, pointing to corrections officers and an ICE detainee who recently tested positive for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The Legal Aid Society and The Bronx Defenders, legal groups based in New York, filed suit last week to release seven ICE detainees who are at “imminent risk” of COVID-19 because of their age or underlying health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and lung issues.

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