COVID-19 Reaches Quarter of New Jersey's Nursing Homes

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Positive coronavirus cases have reached about a quarter of all of New Jersey’s nursing homes, accounting for more than a fifth of the 355 total fatalities from the virus, officials said.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said during a daily briefing that the number of cases in the state climbed to more than 22,000, up about 3,000 in the last 24 hours. The death toll climbed by 91 people from Tuesday to Wednesday.

The virus’ expansion to 93 of the state’s 375 nursing homes is concerning, Murphy and Persichilli have said, but added that it’s expected.

They have said employees at the facilities must wear masks. Visitors have been restricted from going to nursing homes since early last month, except in cases involving residents in hospice.

Three long-term care facilities in the state have reported three or more deaths: Woodcrest Health Care Center in New Milford (five deaths), Saint Joseph's Senior Home in Woodbridge (three deaths) and Lakeland Health Care Center in Wanaque (at least nine deaths).

The development came the same day that Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said that a surge of cases is hitting northern New Jersey.

“Community spread is here in New Jersey and it’s here to stay for a while,” she said.

New Jersey also slashed regulations for some health care providers to make it easier for them to work confronting the coronavirus, Murphy said

An executive order cuts red tape for health care workers with out-of-state licenses or credentials from other countries so that they can work in New Jersey hospitals, Murphy said.

“We’re going to be in hunkered-down mode for a while,” Murphy said.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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