Five staff members at Saint Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
“As you know the impact of COVID-19 has been severe at Saint Joseph’s in Woodbridge. It necessitated the transfer of those residents to another facility. At this time we have confirmed at least 24 COVID-19 cases among the Saint Joseph’s residents,” Persichilli said at a press conference on Thursday afternoon along with Gov. Phil Murphy.
“And we have also confirmed that five staff members tested positive as well.
“That is out of a total staff of 78. There have been three deaths among those residents,” said Persichili who added that 43 of 375 long-term care facilities in the state have at least one resident being reported as positive for COVID-19.
She said that because more residents and staff are symptomatic, the department made the assumption that residents and staff of Saint Joseph’s have all been exposed to COVID-19.
“Because of this situation, it was vital that immediate public health actions were taken to ensure that the staff and the residents were safe and that the residents got the care that they needed.”
On March 26, the governor said that overnight there were 2,492 new cases of COVID-19 reported bringing the total number to 6,876. There were also 19 new deaths bringing that total to 81.
Persichilli said that three of the deaths were associated with a long-term care facility.
In anticipation of the surge and the need for critical care beds, Persichilli said the NJDOH issued an executive order to name level-one-trauma-designated hospitals as the coordinating entities for their respective regions – to include surge monitoring, critical care and bed utilization – serving as consultants to the field hospitals and liaison to the department of health advisory group that will be headed by Dr. Eddie Bresnitz.
Persichilli said that the health department communicated with the leaders of Cooper University Hospital, RWJBarnabas Health System and University Hospital in Newark to outline the responsibilities and the processes for their collaborating roles.
“We are encouraging all hospitals and health care providers to work together in their regions to assure that all of the residents of New Jersey that need care get the care that they require.”
Persichilli added: “Our expectation is that the need for critical beds being felt now and prior to what we would call the actual surge of all cases requiring hospitalization since the significantly symptomatic cases, symptomatic individuals are entering our hospitals at a faster rate.”
She said that this would require all hospitals to focus on their plans to increase their critical care bed component now.
“We are still struggling with supplies for personal protective equipment and particularly at this point in time ventilators,” Persichilli said.
Of the seven labs that are sending the NJDOH their full COVID-19 results, which represents 90 percent of total test results received by the department, there were more than 19,364 tests performed of which 6,137 tested positive for an overall positivity rate of 31.7 percent.
The New Jersey Department of Corrections, Pershichilli also said, has three new confirmed employee cases of COVID-19 involving officers for a total of four.