Governor Phil Murphy

TRANSCRIPT: April 13th, 2020 Coronavirus Briefing Media

04/13/2020

 

Governor Phil Murphy: Good afternoon. I apologize that we moved this not once, but twice, so I appreciate everyone's patience, particularly given nasty weather. With that, I'd like to, before we get into the specifics on COVID-19 and coronavirus, I'd like to ask Pat Callahan to give us a quick sense of the weather this afternoon into this evening.

State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Thanks, Governor. It does look somewhat nasty out there. As you know, there is a tornado watch into effect until 6:00 p.m. for 16 of our 21 counties. I won't go through them all but it's kind of the five Northeastern that are not under that tornado watch. The difference between a watch and a warning is really, the watch is about broad areas where conditions could exist for the development of a twister or tornado. The warnings are highly localized where we see that the tornado is imminent. Beyond that, wind gusts up to 70 miles an hour kind of making their way from Delaware north towards the Poconos. We've already had a lot of flooding in Hunterdon. In Burlington County, we have a partial building collapse in North Hanover; Patterson, partial building collapse. The boardwalk by the Wildwood Convention Center has some damage to it. Between the high winds, the thunderstorms and the expected hail, it is going to be nasty out there. The only good news, Governor, is tomorrow is supposed to be a lot nicer. Currently we're dealing with about just over 47,000 power outages from the north to the south part of the state, Governor.

Governor Phil Murphy: Pat, thank you. I also got some pictures texted to me by Congressman Van Drew and the Wildwood reality, it's really clipped us in a bunch of different places. Again, if folks see a downed power line, don't go near it, please God. Call it in to your utility provider. If your power goes out, don't assume your neighbor called it in. You please call it in yourselves. And we don't want you out right now period, even if it were sunny and 75 degrees, but certainly don't go out unless you absolutely have to over the balance of the afternoon. So I appreciate that, Pat. Thank you.

So again, welcome. I'm joined today by the woman to my right who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health Judy Persichilli; to her right Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director, Dr. Ed Lifshitz, great to have both of you with us. The aforementioned, already introduced, Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Pat Callahan; Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Jared Maples is with us; Deputy Counsel Parimal Garg to answer questions. Again, thank you for your patience today.

Let's start as we have been over the past couple of weeks with the overnight numbers. Since yesterday's report, we have been notified that 3,219 more residents have received positive test results. Remember, our first positive test case was reported on March 4th, and since then, now there's a total of 64,584 New Jerseyans who have tested positive.

According to our online dashboard, accessible through covid19.nj.gov, as of 10:00 p.m. last night, 7,781 residents were reported hospitalized, of whom 1,886 were listed in critical or intensive care and 1,611 ventilators were in use. For the 24-hour period ending at 10:00 p.m. last night, happily 556 residents were discharged, and we celebrate this with them and their families. Their successful battle against COVID-19 gives us continual hope for our larger war against this enemy. To quote a New Jersey icon Mr. Bon Jovi, who says you can't go home?

As it must be noted, the dashboard pulls data as it is reported each night by hospitals to the New Jersey Hospital Association. There may be overnight changes or late reports as Judy, I'm sure, will agree with that are not yet reflected in that data. So these numbers are just a snapshot, literally, in time.

Sadly, we must also report that we have lost another precious 94 souls to COVID-19 related complications. We have now lost a total of 2,443 blessed members of our New Jersey family, To put that in perspective, that is more than the number of New Jerseyans who gave their lives in the combination of the Korean and Vietnam wars. To give you some sense of the staggering toll that this has had on the loss of life. Every day, no matter what, this number hits us right square on the gut. These aren't, and never will be abstract numbers. They are real people who leave behind families whose hurt cannot be properly described. Our hearts are with every family.

I just got off the phone with a very, very close friend of mine in New Jersey, whose brother is being taken off a ventilator as we speak. He's being given Last Rites, 56 years old. I mean, the stories of the tragedy are overwhelming and extraordinary.

Let me give you a couple of stories of the folks who passed since we last gathered. On February 10, 1984, the Reverend Dr. W. Louis McDowell, there is the Reverend, founded the Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Passaic, and had led its congregation since that very day. Reverend McDowell was born in Hawkinsville, Georgia, but he and his late wife Sanella, with whom he is now reunited, bless them both, called New Jersey home. And it is here where they raise their daughters Deaconess Andrea Lisa, with whom I spoke earlier today, and Reverend Pamela Denise. Over the years, Mount Pilgrim has grown into a cornerstone of the community serving far more than just the spiritual needs of its congregation. This is the legacy Reverend McDowell leaves. May God bless him, his daughters and grandchildren and the entire Mount Pilgrim community.

Paterson Police Officer Francesco Scorpo, there he is, God love him, was only 34 years old when we lost him on Saturday. He was only three months shy of his fifth anniversary as a police officer. He will be remembered first and foremost as a loving son, husband and father, but he will also be remembered as an exemplary police officer who served his community with great pride. Our prayers and deepest thoughts are with his wife Christina, with whom I had the honor of speaking earlier today, and his young sons, Francesco Jr. and Santino. I think Francisco Jr., if I'm correct, is four years old and Santino is six months. To his wife and his two sons, as well as his mother and father, Anna and Sam, we send our prayers.

Philip Dover, there he is, was an NJ Transit bus operator, having joined the ranks in 1996. He was a proud member of the Amalgamated Transit Union and is sadly their first member to pass because of COVID-19. He served our state and the thousands upon thousands of riders over the past 24 years who depended on him, and he did all of that serving with distinction. He leaves behind his mother Mae and his brother Mark who I had the honor of speaking with earlier as well.

finally, I send condolences to Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, who has been quite public with his own positive -- there's Andre the Giant in the middle -- with his own positive diagnosis of COVID-19, who lost his uncle, to his left in this picture, John Obeji, a Syrian immigrant who became a successful chemical engineer. His story is the story of New Jersey and of America. Mayor Sayegh and his family are in my prayers and our prayers and I know in the thoughts of many others.

These are just four of the now well more than 2,400 stories that we could sit here and tell. We honor every lost life and we will do everything in our power to ensure that we come out of this emergency with more of our family intact. There is literally no amount of money that is too high to pay to save a life. Our hearts are heavy, yet they are also unbowed.

We have to continue practicing our social distancing. We're already weeks into this. It certainly isn't any more fun and we have many more ahead of us. We simply cannot get complacent. We can't let our vigilance slip. But let's look at this map, as we've been looking at from time to time. That map looks better every time we bring it up and that is a cause of hope. This is the shading, depends on the amount of time it takes to double infections in any one of the 21 counties in New Jersey. When we first showed this to you, it was orange, and there's only one county left that's orange, and red. And now it's one orange, some yellow and a lot of that shaded light gray. That is good news. Our job is to make sure all 21 counties first and foremost, get to be as light of shade as possible. And our collective efforts have taken many parts of the state, as I said, from red to where it looks today and that's good. It means, as I said, the rate of new cases and of transmission is slowing.

But if we let up, it can just as easily become red again. There's an enormous amount of discussion about when are we going to peak? When can my kids, I just got another very impassioned note from a mom. I don't know who she is, but she's pleading with us to let kids play sports. When can we open up our economy? When can we open up our society? We are trying at every single step of the way, and have been since January, trying to make our decisions based on the facts as they sit before us, based on the data, based on the science. And there is no question, we don't get to that point of economic recovery, of societal recovery, unless it is on the back of a healthcare recovery. Our jobs right now, collectively, first and foremost, is to put the fire out in the house and we are still not there yet.

Well the case Judy and Ed, correct me if I'm wrong, while the curve that fits into the amount of positive cases is undeniably now flattening, the increase day over day today to yesterday was 4%. That's been our lowest day-over-day increase since this all started. It is still rising. These cases are still rising. We have got to hit that plateau and then aggressively bring it down, back on the other side, and we only do that -- and again, I'm begging with everybody -- we only do that if you all stay home. Just literally, stay home. Not just because of the weather today, but Pat tells us tomorrow will be better weather. So even in the good weather days, we need you to stay home and stay away from each other, even when you are at home. That allows the number of infections to be lower, which means the number of hospitalizations are lower, and the amount of critical care beds required are lower, and please God, the fatalities are lower.

And as we do that, this allows Judy and Pat and Ed and others to build out the healthcare capacity, such that those lines cross at a reasonable level and at a reasonable date. We are right in the thick of it, folks. We cannot take our foot off the guests.

Now our efforts I mentioned over here, to prepare our healthcare system and capacity, our efforts are continuing to prepare our state and for the potential of up to, you ready? In the worst case models right now, 36,000 residents needing to be hospitalized; 6,000 of them needing a ventilator. Our job, the collective 9 million of us, the many as it were, our job is to make sure we pound the curve from a worst-case scenario down to what looks much more like a best-case scenario. But that's not on automatic pilot. That's up to us in our actions. And so far, that map tells us that we are making progress. The flattening of that curve of positive tests tells us that we're making progress. We have to stay at it.

I would love nothing more than to someday look back and say we over-prepared. That'll be the best mistake any of us ever made. But we don't have that luxury right now. Because we know that if we stop doing what we're doing, even one bit, COVID-19 can boomerang on us and bring about the worst-case scenario. So let's stick together and let's keep working together. It is clearly working. It's how we get that map to look entirely the color we want to look. And it's how that we protect doctors and nurses and first responders and essential workers. So stay with it, folks. What we're doing is clearly working, just keep your foot on the gas, stay home, stay away from each other and we will win this war. Unequivocally, we will win this war.

Switching gears for a couple of announcements, if I may. Before joining you all here, and this is one of the reasons that we were late getting started today, I held a conference call with Governors Cuomo, Lamont, Wolf, Carney, Raimondo to announce the formation of a regional advisory board or council to coordinate not only our cooperative mitigation efforts, which we have been very successful in doing, but to help guide our reopenings once this emergency passes.

I made it clear to our neighboring Governors that we need to fully coordinate at the highest levels, and we worked hard to bring our region together to have this conversation. We cannot act on our own, even if we give ourselves an A-plus, that won't be enough. This is the incredibly important that we coordinate. This must be a truly regional effort, especially for us in New Jersey, located as we are between New York and Philadelphia, our direct connection to Delaware, and our economic connections up through to Connecticut and Rhode Island. We must be smart and tactical in how our region comes out of this. Or else we're at risk, as I said a minute ago, of a COVID-19 boomerang and we'll be right back to square one and that's the last thing we need. We are going through hell and back together, folks right now. Let's just do that once. Let's learn from this and then let's responsibly, as a region, coordinated, harmonized, reopen our societies and our economies.

I'm grateful that my fellow Governors also understand how vital this is. Our region is one of the most important economic regions in the entire country, if not the entire world, and we are all intertwined. I thank the Governors. This has been a great, one of the silver linings of this crisis has been the spirit of cooperation and teamwork across states in our region, as we have tried, at every step, to stay out ahead of this. And then likewise, what we want to do is use that same templated model to begin as we think through the pieces of the puzzle we're going to need to reopen, that we do that as a region and in a harmonized way.

Other topics we had a very productive video call with the White House earlier today. I reiterated some of our needs, our thanks, as well as previewed this regional approach. I'm hoping to speak to the Vice President later tonight. I just got off a call a few minutes ago with Secretary of Veteran Affairs Wilkie, talking about the challenges, the enormous challenges and tragedy that we're facing in our veterans homes, in particular in Paramus and Menlo Park. Knock on wood, so far Vineland is holding its own, but we can't take anything for granted. The Secretary had a couple of very specific suggestions that he's going to run down overnight and we're hoping to speak again tomorrow morning.

I know there's a lot of legislative activity today. We probably won't be commenting on a lot of that, as we usually don't, but I would say two things. Number one, deep appreciation for the coordination, support, cooperation and the leadership of the Legislature. It means a lot, particularly in a crisis like this. Secondly, they're passing a lot of bills, as Parimal alluded to at the end of the week, that underpin the executive actions that we've already taken. Somebody asked me how to weigh executive action, I think it was Charlie, versus bills. Personally, you'd rather have more bills signed than executive actions, and that's why we're about seven to one since we took office, between bills that we've signed and Executive Orders. But there are certain moments of time when an Executive Order is the only option and then there are other moments in time where you can take the action through Executive Order, and then the legislature could come in behind you with great support, I might add again, and pass bills that I can sign that codify the Executive Orders that we have put forth.

On testing, the PNC Bank Art Center testing site was closed today, and that's entirely due to weather. Quite simply, the high winds and driving rain made the conditions unsafe for both visitors and health workers to open today. Weather permitting, it will open at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday for 500 tests. The Bergen Community College site will be open tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., again for a maximum of 500 tests and you've got to be not only a New Jersey resident, but you've got to be symptomatic. Again, we maintain a full list of publicly available testing sites in our information hub at covid19.nj.gov/testing and there are dozens more private testing sites across the state. If you believe you're exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, call your primary care practitioner immediately to see if you qualify for testing. I think Brady O'Connor now tells me there are at least 58 sites in total in the state.

Next, today, I am signing an Executive Order to prohibit internet and phone services from being shut off until 30 days after our current public health emergency has ended. Further, all service downgrades, service reductions or late fees due to non-payment are prohibited unless they are imposed in accordance with a policy approved by the Board of Public Utilities.

Finally, under my Order, any internet or phone service that was disconnected due to non-payment after March 16 must be reconnected. I'm doing this, and I was asked about this at the end, it may have been over the weekend. I'm doing this for a simple reason. People actually need to stay connected. Last month most of our service providers voluntarily took these steps in accordance with FCC policy to protect their customers during this time. We thank them for their partnership.

However, as I was asked about, some providers have loosely interpreted what it means to stay connected. So today, we are forcing them to do what's right, or get with the program, as I used those words, I think last week. Our kids need Internet access for remote learning. Individuals need the ability to telework and seek medical attention electronically. Families need to be able to keep each other informed. This is no time for anyone to have their connection to the world severed.

Now, switching gears again on the topic of PPE and ventilators. As we announced yesterday, another 200 ventilators have been delivered to New Jersey from the Strategic National Stockpile. This means that we've now received 1,550 ventilators and I will continue to push for more. I thank President Trump, Vice President Pence, and the entire team at the White House for continuing to be receptive to our needs. In doing the math, it looks like we've got an outstanding ask, the balance of which is now 950. And you can imagine, we are pursuing multiple avenues literally around the world, away from the Strategic Stockpile for ventilators and PPE.

Additionally, this weekend, 100,000 medical masks arrived at one of our warehouses, thanks to the Government of Taiwan, and another 200,000 will soon be on their way to Ambassador Lily Hsu, and she's on the left there, and the people of Taiwan, we cannot thank you enough. New Jersey is the proud home of hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants. Seeing the support from around the world means so much to our entire wonderful, diverse New Jersey family.

To be clear, we are working every possible avenue to deliver the resources we will need to get through this. I have not stopped making every possible phone call to every possible person, anywhere in the world, in the pursuit of what we need and I know my colleagues have joined me in that endeavor, and our approach is bringing results. We see it today with the delivery of, as I mentioned, of 200 ventilators and 100,000 masks. We saw it this weekend with the arrival of 78 EMT crews from across the country. We have been prudent and disciplined in our planning and implementation, and will not stop at our efforts to get what we will need.

As of now, we have distributed more than 2 million articles of PPE to our healthcare networks and acute care hospitals, and our message to them is clear: we will not let you fail. We have your back. We will keep turning over every possible stone, large and small, to get the supplies we will need. And by the way, as we've said many times, six weeks ago, unless you correct me, Colonel, we were not in the business of getting personal protective equipment, and now New Jersey's distributed more than 2 million from the state items, and we have orders out for at least another 8 million at the cost of tens and tens and tens of millions of dollars.

And by the way, if you have any PPE to provide, please let us know. Reach out to us through our information hub. That's covid19.nj.gov/PPEdonations, and we'll be in touch to gratefully accept your donations. We're seeing donations to first responders across the state coming not just from big countries or big companies, but coming from ordinary New Jerseyans as well. Take for example, Stockton University graduate student, Gavin Rossi. There's Gavin on the left, you can see him. He's using his personal 3D printer to create respirators and face shields that he is donating to frontline workers in our fight against COVID-19. And he's also sharing the patterns he created with other residents who have 3D printers, so they can make even more. And in Bergen County, The South Bergen Jointure Commission has been working with families of individuals with special needs to include the differently abled in our response efforts. They've been delivering 3D printers to their families, and together with their students, have been producing face shields. The first have already been delivered to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. We are grateful to the whole team, especially superintendent, Dr. Michael Kuchar and his entire squad. I want to give a shout out to Stephanie McGowan, who is the third from the right, who sent this photo to me. She's there with her husband and her son. God bless them all.

To them and everyone stepping forward, #NJThanksYou. We know there are many, many more good stories out there, so keep tweeting using that hashtag, #NJThanksYou so everyone across our state can take pride in what our friends and neighbors are doing.

And now before I close and hand the briefing over to Judy, I'd like to note the passing of a true leader in our state, not and I repeat, not of COVID-related causes, but of cancer. Ruth Mendell was 81 when she passed away on Saturday. Many of us know her best for her years as the Director of Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute, and that's where I first met Ruth. She was incredibly gracious and kind to me when it was cold, dark and lonely for me. There specifically at the Eagleton Institute for her leadership of the Center for American Women and Politics. From that post, she inspired countless students, both female and male I might add, to choose a path in public service and to run for elective office, but she was much more.

Her story began in Nazi Germany. Her parents sought to flee and in 1939 boarded the ocean liner St. Louis to escape. But the St. Louis, as you likely know, was spurned at every port it sought out, including shamefully here in the United States. Forced back, many of the St. Louis's passengers would be murdered in the concentration camps. But thankfully, Ruth and her parents were able to find their way to England and were spared. Eventually, they found their way to Brooklyn.

In addition to her accomplishments in academia, she also served as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. To her daughter Maude, with whom I had the honor of speaking earlier today, who by the way herself is following in her mother's footsteps as the President of Williams College and her family, thank you for sharing Ruth with us. Her leadership has made our politics a better place. She made Eagleton and Rutgers and the world around us all better places, too. God rest your soul, Ruth.

With that, please help me welcome the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. As I've shared, the department is working closely with the New Jersey Hospital Association, and all of the hospitals, to ensure that we have adequate bed capacity for individuals with COVID-19, particularly those who need critical care. As the Governor shared, according to the data reported from our hospitals last evening, there are 7,781 hospitalizations, which include individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and persons that are under investigation. The daily growth rate is 1%. 1,886 individuals are in critical care and of that, 1,611 of those individuals are on ventilators, about 85%. In the past few days, we've been as high as 97%. Yesterday, we discharged 556 individuals who had a diagnosis of COVID-19. The discharge rate, based on the number of hospitalizations was about 14% yesterday. The day before, and the day before that, it was 11%. So we're slowly making progress, discharging more people, and holding hospitalizations, and more importantly, critical care patients, somewhat even.

Yesterday, we secured 200 ventilators from the National Strategic Stockpile and last evening, seven hospitals went on divert because they were full, primarily critical care divert. Most of the hospitals in the northern region of the state are reporting that their intensive care beds are nearing capacity. We're working with the hospitals to determine which patients can be safely transferred to the alternative care sites that we have been planning for and that we are now operating. We've also identified 100 nursing home beds in the northern region and another hundred in the central region for individuals awaiting nursing home placement, and are currently in our acute care hospitals. Those homes will be able to cohort. They have adequate PPE and they have the staffing required for a safe transfer and care of these individuals.

The field medical station at the Meadowlands this morning is reporting 37 individuals, and by the end of the day, we expect a total of 62 individuals in the field station. The Edison site is ramping up. They had a very soft opening on Friday. There are four individuals at the Edison site and we expect more by the close of business today. The Atlantic City site is preparing to open next week.

As the Governor shared, we are reporting 3,219 new cases for a total of 64,584 cases in the state and sadly, 94 new deaths have been reported for a total of 2,443 fatalities. 29 of these new deaths were residents of long-term care facilities. There are 324 long-term care facilities in the state with COVID-19 cases, for a total of 5,264 cases of positive COVID-19 in our long-term care facilities. The overall population of our long-term care facilities and assisted living is probably about over 60,000, so we're just about at 10% of that population being affected by COVID-19.

According to the data from this morning, of the seven laboratories sending us COVID-19 results, about 118,000 were tested and 54,600 came back positive. The positivity rate has gone up two percentage points to 46.22%. On Saturday evening, the Department of Health sent out guidance to all of our hospitals on the allocation of critical care resources during a public health emergency. The document provides guidance for the triage of critically ill patients in the event that a public health emergency creates demand for critical care resources that outstrips the supply. The model was adapted for New Jersey from University of Pittsburgh Department of Critical Care Medicine, their policy, and it was adopted after review and input from our multi-disciplinary Professional Advisory Committee.

These triage recommendations will be enacted by a hospital only if:

  1. The hospital is operating under a crisis standard of care.
  2. Critical care capacity is or will be shortly overwhelmed, despite taking all appropriate steps to increase the surge capacity to care for critically ill patients.
  3. A regional authority or a state authority has declared a public health emergency.

The guidance describes the creation of triage teams to ensure consistent decision-making. It includes criteria for initial allocation of critical care resources and reassessment criteria to determine whether the ongoing provision of critical care resources are justified for individual patients. The framework is designed to create meaningful access for all patients. All patients who are eligible for intensive care or critical care services during ordinary circumstances remain eligible, and there are no exclusion criteria based on age, disability, or other factors. The framework ensures that all patients receive individualized assessments by clinicians based on the best available objective medical evidence. It ensures that no one is denied care based on stereotypes, assessment of quality of life, or judgment about a person's worth based on the presence or absence of disabilities or other factors. And lastly, it ensures that discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, place of residence, socio-economic or insurance status, is explicitly avoided. And to the extent possible, those making allocation decisions should be unaware of these patient characteristics. The goal of the allocation framework is to achieve benefit for populations of patients often expressed as doing the greatest good for the greatest number.

As you know, we have developed a regional approach to share resources and supplies across the north, central and southern parts of the state. Because of this approach, no institution should have to resort to limiting access to critical care resources, including ventilation, while neighboring or regional or state institutions still have capacity. Again, these triage guidelines are intended to be the last resort. We hope and have planned that they will not be needed.

Key to ensuring we have the supplies we need to continue providing care to everyone that comes through our doors, we need to continue flattening the curve through social distancing. Social distancing, as you've heard, is vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and we must all take this seriously. All residents need to take steps to protect not only their health, but also loved ones and vulnerable populations. It is possible by adhering to aggressive social distancing, you are personally responsible for saving lives in New Jersey. Thank you again for staying home and maintaining social distancing. It is making a difference. Stay connected, stay safe, and stay healthy. Thank you.

Governor Phil Murphy: Judy, thank you. A couple of quick follow ups with you, is that okay? Counties with most positive cases continue to be Bergen, number one, now Hudson, number two, Essex three, Union four, and Middlesex just ahead of Passaic for our top actually six counties. Did you hit race and ethnicity? I apologize. I was getting pinged. Would you mind hitting that, as well as underlying conditions?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: For the total deaths, less than 1% are 18 to 29 years of age; 4.5% 30 to 49' 16.7% 50 to 64]; 65 to 79, 32.8%; and over 80, 45.5%; 41.9% are female; 58% are male. 51.2% are White, non-Hispanic; 21.3% Black non-Hispanic; 18.6% Hispanic; 6% Asian; 2.9% other. 57.1% have an underlying condition of cardiovascular disease, 33.9% diabetes mellitus, 29.3% other chronic diseases, 19.7% chronic lung disease, 14.6% chronic renal, 13.6% neurological disability, 11.5% cancer and other or 11.8%, and 6% have no documented underlying disease.

Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you for that. Again on race, the number that jumps out for me continues to be the African American number. It's down a little bit, I think, but not much. But it's still about 50% more than the representation of the general population. That's something that we're looking at very carefully. One for Judy and one for Ed Judy's last points on this directive that went out around the state. I want folks, there are some words in what you said and that are in that document that we must just underscore. No exclusion criteria. That's period, that's an absolute statement. Individual assessments would be taken, right?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yes.

Governor Phil Murphy: No matter in terms of judgment of a person's worth. Turns out you can't buy your way to salvation and that's the way it should be. And discrimination, no discrimination of any kind. We can't say that more strongly. A friend who's a faith leader reached out to me today and said, there were some rumors that may be otherwise in a certain reality in the state. And he said, you know, what happens then is that it's going to be the typical communities that are discriminated against are going to be the losers, and we will not allow that to happen. Ed or Judy, positivity going up a couple of points. Over a month now, five weeks plus into this, does that tell us anything? Again, assuming that the overwhelming amount of folks who are being tested continue to be symptomatic, right?

DOH Medical Director Communicable Disease Service Dr. Ed Lifshitz: Yes, that's correct, overwhelming percentage are symptomatic. And no, I wouldn't read very much into a bump of 1% or 2% going forward. There are all sorts of things that go into that number, including who's being tested, how symptomatic. Obviously, in places like Bergen where they're still overrun, they're only testing the sickest of the sick, in general, so they're having very high positivity rates. So no, we do look at those numbers going forward. But no, I would not pay very much attention to a change of one or two points.

Governor Phil Murphy: Good to know. I'm going to ask Pat to clean up on compliance, PPE, anything else and Brendon when we do start, we're going to start with Elise over here and sweep across. Pat, please.

State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Thank you, Governor. Overall, for the most densely populated state in America, compliance has been exceptional. This is a little bit longer, but not too long because it encapsulates the weekend numbers. In Robbinsville, a subject arrested for driving under the influence coughed in the officers direction, claiming to have COVID. In Toms River, a subject refused to wear a mask in a Wawa and became belligerent. He was arrested. When he was released again, believe it or not, he was went back to a different Wawa and got into an altercation with a patron, subsequently was arrested again and lodged in the Ocean County Jail. In Hamilton, a nail salon was closed and cited for the EO violation. In Salem City, another arrest for somebody active on an NCIC warrant coughed in the officer's direction saying she was COVID positive. The City of Newark Police Department issued 85 EO violations and closed seven businesses over the weekend. A subject left her house in violation of a restraining order to go see her mother. She was subsequently charged with both the violation of the restraining order and an EEO violation. In Paterson, a subject was cited for having a non-essential business open and in Camden, a woman who was shoplifting got out to the parking lot, spit on one of the employees, got into her vehicle and proceeded to reverse, almost striking another employee, so she was charged with robbery, shoplifting and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, in addition to the EO violation.

And just lastly, Governor, I'd just like to highlight, I know last week we talked about those 75 ambulances that we received from the National Ambulance Contract through FEMA. They, to date, have taken nearly 500 911 calls, have done 286 transports, 58 of their calls have been for folks in cardiac arrest. Last night, we did submit to FEMA another request for 50 basic life support ambulances and 50 advanced life support ambulance. So our surge, overwhelming the calls on our 911 system are unprecedented, and I just want to take the opportunity to thank all those that came to support our EMS efforts across New Jersey. Thanks, Gov.

Governor Phil Murphy: Hear, hear, Colonel. Thank you for everything, including with what the EMS teams are doing and what you're doing and all of your colleagues. It's not quite ready for primetime, but we mentioned last week that California, looking at their ventilator stockpile, realized that they didn't need all that they had and they sent 100 our way, which we put to use immediately. Another state, I have to say, has reached out to us so when we have more color on that. But there's a spirit, I have to say, of we're all in this together. And again, I look forward to our Lafayette we are here moment when we're out of the woods and we are able to turn around, whether it's sending ambulances back or ventilators or whatever healthcare workers, whatever it might be, other places and states are here for us right now and we will never forget that. So with that, Elise, good afternoon. We're going to start with you. Brendan has got the microphone.

Q&A Session

Elise Young, Bloomberg: Good afternoon. At what point does the ventilator triage guidance go into effect? For instance, must you first exhaust the supply of anesthesia machines? Why are any hospitals on diversion when we have so much space available at the field hospitals? And do we have sufficient transportation to move sick people from hospital A to hospital B? Given the ambulance statistics that the State Police Superintendent just gave, does it appear that people are showing up in hospitals now in poorer shape than they were at the beginning of this?

Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you for those. I would just make one comment, Judy. I think these are largely to you and perhaps to Pat. But some of the steps that we're taking, we've referred to the refrigerated trailers on that list, the directive that Judy put out over the weekend. I just want to remind folks, we would be abrogating our responsibility if we didn't pursue all potential considerations here. We just have no other choice. As Judy has said unequivocally and with great eloquence, we're going to do everything in our power to avoid ever having to activate a directive like that. But we would be remiss in our duties if we did not, again, make sure we're prepared for all considerations and all eventualities. Judy, do you mind jumping in on these?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Sure, first on the allocation guidelines, they would only come into effect if not only all traditional ventilators are in use, but all alternative ventilators. That's anesthesia machines, home ventilators, bi-pap machines, anything that can be used to support the pulmonary function of patients would be used first. On why are hospitals going into diversion if the field has open beds? The admission criteria for the field is a low acuity medical surgical patient. The people that are in the beds right now require a level of care that would not be appropriate in the field. There could be people that have come out of critical care that need four to five more days of heightened vigilance, particularly in their pulmonary function, that you wouldn't want to put in a field center and if something happened, would have to be transferred back. Although we do have ventilator standby and monitor standby at the fields for those circumstances, we would rather that not happen.

Those hospitals, what type of shape they'll be in, are you talking about financially?

Governor Phil Murphy: I think it was do you have sufficient transportation? Whether or not, your last comment, I think you were going to ask that anyway, but Pat's last comments about the ambulance capacity and people showing up at the hospital. Are they showing up in worse condition than they were, on average, when they were showing up a month ago? Did I get that about right?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I wasn't sure whether it was the patient or the –

Governor Phil Murphy: It was the patient.

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Sorry. There are some instances where individuals are showing up at the hospitals in extremis, perhaps they were at home, not feeling well, they didn't call their doctor. We had a lot of discussion about making sure that individuals know that when they get chest tightness or shortness of breath, they should get to the hospital. We have a lot of education out there in that regard.

Governor Phil Murphy: And on transportation as a general matter, do we have enough? I guess the answer, Pat, is we wouldn't be ordering 100 more if we did.

State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: I think the same with beds and ventilators, we'll never say we have enough, Elise.

Governor Phil Murphy: And when we do, we will return to those who gave to us. Sir, do you have something in the back or no? Nikita, do you want to come in here? Row 2, and then Matt, we'll come to you.

Nikita Biryukov, New Jersey Globe: I just have two today. The multi-state cooperative that you announced, will that be in lieu of the Skunkworks Team or in addition to it? And then this is not really related to COVID that much, but now that Sanders has endorsed Biden and still pledged to stay on the ballot, do you think that he should pull himself out of the race and off of the ballot, as the titular head of the New Jersey Democratic Party?

Governor Phil Murphy: I missed what he did, so I apologize. Could you say that -- what happened? Sorry.

Nikita Biryukov, New Jersey Globe: Let me pull this away a little bit so it's easier to speak. Senator Sanders has endorsed Joe Biden, but he's still remaining on the ballot. Do you think that he should pull himself off of that as the titular head of the Democratic Party?

Governor Phil Murphy: The multi-state coalition in terms of getting ourselves prepared, both as a healthcare infrastructure matter and an economic jobs matter, is not in lieu of whatever we're doing inside the state. It's meant to complement it, but to very much try to harmonize as best we can. I don't know that this is public knowledge, but there's no big secret about this. This Regional Council we announced today, each state will put forward a public health professional, someone who Judy is comfortable with, an economic professional, whether they're in government or not, and then the Chiefs of Staff for the Governor's so they'll be X states times three, but it will complement.

Secondly, I did not see that so I apologize. I'm not surprised by that given that the Senator Sanders suspended his campaign last week and let me think about your question. I. I don't know that I've got a passion one way or the other, but it's pretty clear Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee for President for the Democratic Party. Thank you. Matt.

Reporter: Good afternoon. So a couple of clarifications, if I could. On peak surge, there were some projections not that long ago, 14,000 hospitalizations by Sunday. Governor, you just mentioned a 36,000 figure. I'm curious, because we're holding between the 7,000 and 8,000 for days now, are we projecting a lower peak? Can somebody square this away from me?

And on a similar note, we keep on saying that we're short on ventilators. Governor, you just cited the 6,000 figure again, but on the state's website, they say they're at 55% capacity with 1,600 in us. So again, I'm curious if you could square that.

Colonel, I'm curious if you know the number of the total number of law enforcement in the state who tested positive?

And just lastly, because we keep on getting asked, I know we've asked you. Do we expect at any point to have a handle of local hospitals or health officials reporting up how many people were treated and then released? Other states do have the figures of people recovered. Just double checking on that.

Governor Phil Murphy: Let me let me give a couple of high level comments, Judy, and then you and Pat can come in, if that's okay. Part of the reason why this is both the question on how many hospitalizations and ventilators, I'll answer both in a similar way here. We look at multiple models. I want to make sure, folks, and I know Judy does as well, as does Pat, that folks have to remember, we're not out of the woods. The worst case scenario for the model that looks to be, I'm not a medical expert here, so take this with a grain of salt, which is why I use the number 36,000. The model that I would say that I would look to more than the others, just one guy's assessment, your worst case scenario there is 36,000. The best case scenario is a fraction of that. And by the way, it could have been a lot worse. So folks, we've already probably dodged a significant chunk of this bullet.

But may I just say this unequivocally, if we take our foot off the gas, we will still see the current assessment in these models of a worst case scenario. In other models that I look at, the model that I would look at more than the others, and that's just one person's assessment, and Judy is much better at this than I am, is that gets you to 36,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 ventilators. I would just say before Judy comes in on treated and released, we are the ultimate home rule state. With that is an extraordinary source of pride for our communities but it is also, as an infrastructure, some days as an infrastructure and data matter, never mind, I'll leave aside budget matter, it can be challenging. And so that's nobody's fault. It's just a reality. This is the hand we've been dealt and we're going to manage it to the very best of our abilities.

But Judy, to you on treated and released, and then Pat on number of law enforcement. Does that sound right, Judy?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, first on treated and released. We do not have numbers on the individuals who come into the emergency room, perhaps get immediate treatment and are released. Our indication, just by the fact that there's 7,000, is that most of them are being admitted, even if they're admitted for observation and control of symptoms. I don't have treated and released from the emergency room. What we gave you was total hospitalizations, and how many are being discharged, and it's running between, like I said, 11% and 14% a day for the last five days. That's the information that we have.

And as far as the peak is concerned, we've said all along, we've been planning for the worst and hoping for the best. I look at three models every day. They're all directionally correct. It's just a matter of timing. The peak is 36,000, with about, actually 9,000 in critical care and 7,800 individuals on ventilators. That's the latest peak that we have as of 10 o'clock last night.

On the other hand, we know we have 7,000. We know we have about 1,700 ICU, and we also know anecdotally that for whatever reasons, the CEOs as they made rounds this weekend, reported in to me that things seemed calmer. It may be that culturally, the resilience of the organizations are kicking in and they're getting used to this level of activity. But we're hoping for the best, but we continue to plan for the worst.

Governor Phil Murphy: Judy, thank you. Pat, law enforcement?

State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Yes, sir. And this is, Matt, with most of the police departments across New Jersey reporting as of this morning, 645 law enforcement officers statewide tested positive, another 2,310 were home isolating and self-quarantine so nearly about 3,000 across the state are currently out and not on duty.

Governor Phil Murphy: This is unrelated completely, Matt, to your question, but I forgot I realized I meant to mention that we participated in a call this morning. We are trying to keep the Legislature, not just the leadership, but the entirety of the two bodies as up to speed as possible. We do calls with them every 10 days or so. We've got one, I believe, scheduled for later this week. We could also, as you can imagine, deal with them bilaterally regularly, every day. We also do something similar with our Congressional delegation. We had a very good call this morning in terms of both sides of the aisle, both US Senators, I think most, if not all, of our House delegation, a very good sort of update on where we are and where we could use their help, and frankly, where they could use our help.

I just want to say this that I endorsed full throatedly and I know they do as well the National Governors Association ask that the next round of federal help include $500 million of direct federal cash assistance for states, among other topics we discussed. We discussed veterans homes, as you can imagine, as well as some other topics. Thank you. Do you have something?

Reporter: In one of your comments over the weekend, Governor, you told renters who are being screwed over by their landlords to file a complaint with the state, but landlords coercing people into paying rent through late fees or expectations of lump sum payments at the end of the crisis aren't violating any laws. What exactly is the legal standard the state will be holding landlords to? And what legal protections do renters who can't make rent over the next few months have when the grace period ends and they may be faced with lump sum payments or eviction?

Last week, you announced the formation of a task force to address the drug shortages at NJ hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. What have they discovered thus far? How serious is the spike in demand for fentanyl and other drugs used in conjunction with ventilators? Will we make it through this initial surge? What about a second surge? Is the federal government offering any help?

And finally, one of our viewers is currently divorced and their partner is keeping the kids away through the Stay At Home Order and fear of the kids getting COVID as a reason. The courts are closed. Is there any guidance that the state could provide re: this very specific situation?

Governor Phil Murphy: Okay, I could say I have not been asked the last one. I'm going to ask Parimal to come in on renters, late fees, recourse, landlord activity. One thing, we have said this. If anyone has a holiday right now, the deal is not like say it's three-month holiday, 90 days. The deal should not be on day 91 you have a mountain to repay from the previous three months, never mind late fees on top of that. That's not the spirit of what we're looking for here. Please, Parimal.

Deputy Chief Counsel Parimal Garg: There are certain existing protections for renters under state law, and actually, some of the bills that are up in the Legislature today address this. It would depend on the specific circumstances. That's why we're asking people to come forward with their specific situation.

Governor Phil Murphy: As it relates to drug shortages, obviously, Judy should handle that. Actually Parimal, now that you're on stage, it seems to me, a non-lawyer, non-binding observation, using this in the midst of some sort of a divorce reality, using this awful health crisis as an excuse for other behavior doesn't feel kosher to me, but I would ask your legal judgment on that.

Deputy Chief Counsel Parimal Garg: I think it would depend on the specific situation there.

Governor Phil Murphy: I could have guessed that. That's probably also a better answer. As it relates to drugs and drug shortages, one part of your very good question and Judy can answer this with more specificity than I can. We have to try to avoid a second surge at all costs. I think, and we haven't said this in a few days, but just may I just say this? Even based on what I know, Ed, Judy, even if we do everything perfectly, reopening our state, putting the house fire out, slowly but surely reopening, these sorts of viruses, on their own, have a second and third potential life associated with them, I'm told no matter what we do. That could be a reality and please God it isn't.

But we have to understand that the playbook that we're using now has got to teach us some lessons in terms of how to deal with that, not just in terms of opening the economy. But please God, we cannot self-inflict a second surge. That's what I'm most focused on when we talk about reopening. That our actions have to be responsible, such that we don't even inadvertently, with the best of intentions, throw gasoline on the fire, and have this come up again, in a spike. When I talk about that, I'm not saying it from an epidemiological standpoint, than I am human nature and actions policy steps that could contribute, even inadvertently, to that. Any comments on drug shortages? And then any observations on second surge?

DOH Medical Director Communicable Disease Service Dr. Ed Lifshitz: As Yogi Berra was purported to have said, predictions are difficult, particularly about the future. And as many other people have said, one of the things we know is the virus is going to set the agenda, not us. We've never been in this situation before where we've had this particular virus, where we've taken these steps to try to mitigate and flatten the curve, and what will happen. We do not know how heat will affect it over the summer. We certainly should be prepared, because certainly past epidemics have typically come in waves. Certainly, if we go into this unprepared and we were to come out of all the steps that we're taking now, there certainly would be a fairly high probability that we would see a wave again at some point in the future.

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: On the drugs, my understanding is we did get a drug distribution to central procurement, and that'll be distributed to the hospitals in need, but I don't have the particular drugs that were dropped.

Governor Phil Murphy: We can come back on that once we have specifics. We're going to go to Dave here. And also whether or not there was a federal element to that as well. We'll come back to that. Dave, good afternoon.

David Levinsky, Burlington County Times: Hi, Governor. For you, first of all, Governor, the regional state plan that has been unveiled today, do you have any idea what the first steps or the first step will actually be? Is there a meeting planned? Where will it take place? Do you have any idea specifically about how possibly the reopening process is going to start? I know it's difficult, nobody really knows, but do we have a sense?

And then for the Commissioner, the triage ethics guidelines that you have discussed today, do you think, Commissioner, that we will need to enact the guidelines? Would we be able to get a copy of the document to look at? And just, could you help us to understand what this really means? I understand no bias, no discrimination. But if a situation arises where two people come in and there's one ventilator, what are you going to do? Is it the first person who shows up? You know, again, God forbid it would happen, but according to the plan that we're developing here? That's it.

Governor Phil Murphy: May I jump in Judy, and then turn to you? The regional state plan, I think each of the states have to appoint their people, so the Chiefs of Staff, we know who that is for us, it's George Helmy, thank God. And then we're in the process of working with Judy and our economics team to come up with the right person to speak to the health piece of this and the economic piece. Then I assume there's a meeting sooner than later, I would guess this week. My guess is it's virtual, just because we're not doing a whole lot of -- this and the VTC that we do with the White House, these are rare, in-person. I would think that that is the case.

I think Dave is going to be, and Judy and Ed should opine on this. We're going to have to be convinced, I believe, that we will have the healthcare infrastructure in place before we can reopen for business. That sounds daunting, but I'm not sure, necessarily that's the case. But I do know testing, rapid testing, the ability to be testing at much bigger scale with a quick feedback is going to be a big piece of this. It has to be. You know, we've talked about, we haven't done this for a few days, but we could do everything we can within the four walls of New Jersey because people are staying at home. But what if someone were to come in from a lower common denominator state or place in the world or a state that may have done this later, and that they were in a different cycle and inadvertently began a community spread again? I think you'd agree with me, we have to have some high degree of confidence that that healthcare infrastructure is in place. Our team spent a lot of time this weekend with the White House talking with their team on this exact topic. My guess is there'll be more of that. Please.

David Levinsky, Burlington County Times: If I may just follow up, speaking of the White House, the President has come out and said that it's up to the feds and not the states. It's not the Governors. He said that this was a clarification, I believe, with regard to fake news about this issue. Your reaction to that? I'm sorry, let me just clarify. The question that I had was with regard to the reopening in terms of the first step, do you think it would be something like people in their 20s and certain types of businesses would be able to go back? In other words, is there going to be a gradual reintroduction of reality, of normalcy, of reality when this process ultimately starts?

Governor Phil Murphy: Recognize I'm practicing without a license as a medical and health matter, so I'm going to very quickly turned to the experts. I think it's too early to tell. It's too early to tell. But my answer actually would still stand. We have to be confident, our teams need to be confident, the states need to be confident that the region has the healthcare infrastructure in place that will allow us to be as nimble as we need to be.

I just only saw the headline of what the President said. My guess is that, like everything else, this is a consensual process. We've got to get there based on the facts, based on the data, based on the science. We've got to get there together. I have the great responsibility of being the Chief Executive Officer in the state, representing the safety and security of 9 million people and that's something that is unequivocal and I have to make sure I get that right. I certainly hope that as we formed this council today, I'm very optimistic we could do it in good harmonization with regional partners and would hope that we could do that, as well, in harmony with the federal government.

Judy and Ed, please correct the record and any commentary you have, in particular, on the so-called the triage guidelines that Dave asked about?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: On the triage guidelines, we anticipated that we were going to have to put together guidelines. That was in our original plan for a surge. That's why we put together a Professional Advisory Committee, multi-disciplinary. The document will be posted on our website, the full document. I gave you the highlights. It's a pretty significant and well thought-out document. It needs to be endorsed by every hospital, to provide hospitals with the immunity to make the decisions that they have to make at the bedside.

A lot of these things are already in place in New Jersey. As you know, New Jersey was a leader in bioethics committees dating back to the Quinlan situation. They pretty much have processes in place so that when those decisions do have to be made, they can easily get into the deliberations.

Governor Phil Murphy: I just want to add one thing and then we're going to go to John and call it a day. But I've used this example before. I don't think you've said I was crazy, but you're welcome to say so. Could you see the following? And you asked the demographic, people in their 20s. I still am petrified of the young person who may be asymptomatic who is inadvertently passing it on to someone who's more vulnerable. But I think we've said before, could you see a something like the following? A bar or a restaurant, someone's maybe taking your temperature or doing something on the outside? Inside, you've got gloved and masked servers. You've got a hyper standard of wiping down surfaces, you're at most 50% capacity and X feet between one table and the next. I personally think, at least early on, that may well be part of our reality.

And so I'm not suggesting, I'm not saying for sure, but I also know this is the reason why the regional thing really matters. I'll pick Camden and Philly in the south and Jersey City and lower Manhattan in the northern part of the state. We better darn well be sure that the standards for that restaurant or bar are the same on one side of those rivers as they are on the other side. And that's a big, that's a pretty tangible example of why we want to do this. Thank you. John.

John McAlpin, Bergen Record: So we're still getting a lot of calls from families asking us to check on nursing homes where they have family, asking for specific details. And now the AARP is asking for the names of nursing homes to be released publicly. If not for tips from people, we would not have known about The Paramus Veterans Home where there were dozens of dead, and now they've got federal involvement from the VA. Will you publicly be releasing names of nursing homes? We're still getting a lot of reports of deaths at nursing homes and veterans homes, specifically where there are people who have not been tested. What is the recommendation for testing at nursing homes and how complete is it? Do you think that represents –?

Governor Phil Murphy: At what, sorry?

John McAlpin, Bergen Record: At nursing homes and veteran homes, is there a policy for testing? And is there possibly a significant undercount of people who are COVID-19 positive?

And in addition to ventilators and PPE and drugs and things, we're hearing a lot of concern about staffing at hospitals from CEOs. The Colonel gives us a count of numbers of police and troopers who are out. Can we get that for nursing staff and doctors? Do you have any reports of medical care workers who have died?

Also schools, people are crazy about the April 17th date of the schools. Will you announce specifically what happens with schools? Because there's a lot of people just waiting to find out, graduation and everything. Is that a date with certainty that you will announce something, or is there something before that? Or any guidance you can give to people about what happens with the schools?

Governor Phil Murphy: Okay, let me start with that one because we will abide by our promise, at the latest by Friday, I would hope we'll do something ahead of that. So bear with us, and that's related to schools.

I mentioned I was on the phone with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Secretary Wilkie just before coming over here. We talked, and Judy and I had spoken with Pat and George Helmy earlier about what do we need right now, right here. We need a surge of staffing and your point is a fair one. You've got staffing either due to sickness, quarantine, in some cases. This is, you know, a bridge too far. We can understand that. Staffing, and then you mentioned testing, to make sure that we had a complete testing, we needed help there. Particularly again, this is in the veterans homes. He's taken all that in and he's going to come back tomorrow and we will have that discussion.

Before you jump in, Judy, did we go through the data on the three veterans homes today?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: No, but I have it.

Governor Phil Murphy: We do have the data on the three veterans homes. But do you want to answer the general question first?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Sure. Let's talk about nursing homes. I think you all know that I've been monitoring at all the nursing homes and it doesn't stop over the weekend or for a holiday. We were able to contact a number of the owners of the nursing homes over the weekend. They pledged to be on site on Sunday and they were, because some of them were not as visible to the staff as perhaps the staff would have liked. In a number of cases, they've increased the hourly rate of the staff members to entice them to come back and they've also paid a fairly high price to get the appropriate PPE, so that the patients can be taken care of, the residents can be taken care of appropriately.

Additionally, we've sent, over the weekend, a number of names from our volunteer portal to nursing homes and the veterans home, by the way, and they've have shared with us that they've had a large amount of success in bringing those volunteers into their facilities. We also are prohibiting any admissions or readmissions to nursing homes that cannot cohort, or do not have the staff to take care of the patients or the PPE, and cannot assure us that they can comply with all infection prevention guidelines, including the movement of staff between individuals that perhaps are positive or persons under investigation, and those that are showing no symptoms. They cannot admit. That's why we're identifying a number of nursing home beds for the discharges from the hospitals. People just can't go back until the spread in the nursing homes slows down and until they can take care of their residents appropriately.

Let me get the veteran --

Governor Phil Murphy: While you're doing that, is it possible you've got undercount, which was one of John's questions? In terms of particularly cause of death, I assume, and fatalities in particular, right?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I don't believe specifically undercount, the accuracy of the information, as with all of our statistics, sometimes it's in question, but we have a pretty good handle of every nursing home, every patient that's under investigation, every member of the staff that is exhibiting respiratory symptoms. We know how many deaths have occurred in each nursing home, and how many have been attributed to COVID.

Governor Phil Murphy: You were going to make a point about DOD staffing, Pat?

State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: I was just going to make a point, and the Commissioner I'm sure will agree, the reason why hospitals, especially in North Jersey, John, are going on divert is not because of bed capacity, it's because of staffing. That original Department of Defense staffing that we're using at the Edison field medical station, we've diverted – I won't use the word divert -- we've sent a lot of them into the hospitals up in Northern Jersey until the census starts to build down in Edison at the Convention Center. So we're being as dynamic and fluid with reallocating staffing around the state and those Department of Defense Medical Corps are a huge welcome to the hospitals in North Jersey.

Governor Phil Murphy: Do you want to hit the veterans and then two other quickies and we'll fold.

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Sure. The veterans, as you know, we have Menlo Park, Paramus and Vineland. Vineland is fairly stable with just one resident, pending results of a test and two hospitalized. Menlo Park, unfortunately, has identified 14 deaths as a result of COVID-19 and Paramus has identified 24. That's out of census of 270 at Menlo Park and 269 in Paramus.

Additionally, we have 324 affected facilities, long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities. That's out of 375 nursing homes and about 200 assisted living facilities. We're making the assumption that COVID-19 is in most, if not all, of our nursing homes at this point.

Governor Phil Murphy: Judy, is there any way through the Hospital Association or the Long Term Care Association? Last one, I think, that we haven't hit is whether or not you can get a similar, how many have tested positive? How many are quarantining for healthcare workers as we do for law enforcement?

Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I do not have it broken down. I don't have a summary of it. You know, we have it broken down perhaps by hospital. We do have it broken down by long-term care.

Governor Phil Murphy: Dan, Brian, maybe we could get back to John on that one. Thank you. Folks, thank you for your patience today. In particular, because we moved this not once, we moved it twice. That was not our intention.

Tomorrow, unless you hear otherwise, we're going to get back to our 1:00 p.m. slot right here. I would just repeat, I want to thank the Commissioner Judy Persichilli for her leadership and being here. Ed Lifshitz, Thank you, Doctor, for your extraordinary work as well. And Pat Callahan, to you and your team, Jared Maples, the whole squad. Again, I'd say to everybody we wear these, by the way, we only take them off when we're in our press conference so you can understand what we're saying. So please, everybody put something on your face, literally if you're watching from home, literally everybody else here has got something on and we'll all put ours back on right now.

Again, keep doing what you're doing. Matt asked questions which gets to the nub of what we could do. And that is, does this turn out to have been, when they write the history books that this was a worst-case event or a best-case event? And it is largely in our hands in terms of where we come out on those two options. Obviously up high is a lot of infections and a lot of hospitalizations. And the best case scenario is a lot lower infections and hospitalizations, and ultimately, fatalities.

The one number one thing all of us can do, and you're doing New Jersey an extraordinary job, we just got to make sure you keep doing it, is stay home. Literally stay home. And with that we will crack the back of this thing. And once we've cracked the back of it, we can begin slowly, but surely, to get back on our feet. So to each and every one of you, God bless you. Thank you. We'll see you tomorrow.