Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Wednesday that will require hospitals to report demographic data to the New Jersey Department of Health.
In conjunction with the signing, the COVID-19 Information Hub was updated with already collected preliminary racial data.
“Understanding the impact of COVID-19 by demographic group is critical to ensure equity in our response to this virus,” said Murphy. “We must do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable groups in our state during this unprecedented crisis. This data will inform our efforts and allow us to make sure that no one is left behind.”
Senate Bill 2357 requires hospitals to report demographic data including age, ethnicity, gender and race of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, who have died from COVID-19, and who have tried to get testing but have been turned away.
Primary sponsors of the legislation include Sens. Ronald Rice, D-28th District; Nia Gill, D-334th District; Kristin Corrado, R-40th District; and Assembly members Benjie Wimberly, D-35th District; Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, D-15th District; and Nancy Pinkin, D-18th District.
Pop-ups crop up
Murphy also toured a pair of pop-up hospital sites Wednesday morning in Essex and Bergen counties, designed to help ensure the state has enough space for the influx of patients from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Murphy visited what was once a partially closed wing of East Orange General Hospital that was outfitted with 250 beds. Then, he visited a one-time gymnasium at New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus that was transformed into a 30-bed facility.
There will also be a 100-bed tent facility at the site.
East Orange is set to open around May 5 and the gym site at New Bridge will open April 27, with the tent part opening April 29.
Murphy was joined on the tours by Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite of the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan and state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
He was joined in Paramus by U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th District, and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Murphy said that the two drive-thru test centers at Bergen Community College and the PNC Bank Arts Center would continue to test symptomatic patients only.
He said that the state would need a waiver from FEMA in order to allow those sites to test non-symptomatic residents.