N.J. Reports Record New Deaths, Expects Hospital Shift South

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(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey reported an additional 379 deaths from the new coronavirus, a record one-day increase.

Fatalities now total 4,753 in New Jersey, which has the second highest infection rate after New York. New Jersey reported 3,643 additional cases, for a total of 92,387. It has weeks to go before it begins to reopen in parts, Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday at a press briefing.

“I will not rush this,” he said.

The state is opening a new field medical center in Atlantic City as hospitalizations migrate to the central and southern regions of New Jersey from the more densely populated north. The state also expects an increase in infections once the state begins reopening, the governor said.

“We must be prepared for new cases,” Murphy said of the 250-bed Atlantic City field hospital, the state’s third, which he toured earlier Tuesday.

Of 7,594 people hospitalized, 1,930 were in intensive- or critical-care units, and 1,501 were on ventilators, Murphy said. Seventy-two patients were in three Federal Emergency Management Agency field hospitals, with capacity for 750 people. In all, 630 people were discharged from hospitals over the past 24 hours.

Though the curve is flattening, the state hasn’t seen a prolonged decrease, Murphy said. Still, in the state’s 21 counties it was taking 8.5 to 24.5 days for cases to double; in March, several counties had doubling in three days.

Murphy ordered residents to stay indoors and nonessential businesses to close on March 21. The steps led to 718,000 unemployment filings over four weeks, a record, and will cost the state billions of dollars in revenue. Still, Murphy’s approval rating soared to a record 71% in a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday, with most residents saying his early and controversial steps to contain the spread were appropriate.

The state must continue to require face coverings and keep parks, schools and businesses closed, the governor said.

Murphy said he had a call with professional sports-team owners including New Jersey Devils co-owner Josh Harris and Giants co-owner John Mara. “I’ve got no clues” about the return of athletics, Murphy said.

“A solid testing regime will be critical in our reopening strategy,” Murphy said. “The federal government must step up in a big way here.”

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