As the state prepares for surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Thursday that a 250-bed medical station would open early next week at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus to accommodate lower acuity patients.
Murphy also issued Executive Order No. 113, providing the New Jersey State Director of Emergency Management – New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan – the full authority to commandeer medical supplies and equipment, such as ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment, including from private companies and institutions.
According to EO 113, the authority to take and use the resources for hospitals, health care facilities and emergency response agencies in need due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak will be exercised in consult with the state Department of Health.
Compensation will be provided by procedures established under the Disaster Control Act.
Speaking at his daily briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak, Murphy said Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is donating $2.35 million in money and equipment, including 500,000 N95 respirator masks, 81,000 face shields, $100,000 to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and $60,000 to the Jewish Family Service of Atlantic and Cape May.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that the pressure on hospital systems is building across the state.
“The Secaucus site will take in patients with lower acuity from the surrounding hospitals so these hospitals have more space to care for the critically ill,” Persichilli said.
The field hospitals are being set up for non-COVID-19 patients but they will be prepared to take care of individuals who develop COVID-19 while they are the hospital.
Persichilli said that Level 1 Trauma Centers throughout the state – University Hospital in Newark, RWJBaranabas Health and Cooper University Health Care – are organizing resources and needs for the field hospitals in their specific regions.
Callahan, additional sites are slated to open in Edison on April 8 and in Atlantic City on April 14.
The Department of Health reported 3,489 new positive COVID-19 cases for a total of 25,590. In addition, 182 new deaths were reported for a total of 537 with 110 of the state’s long-term care facilities reporting at least one positive COVID-19 case.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:32 p.m. EST on April 2, 2020 to include details regarding Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 113.