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hospitals federal aid
COURTESY STATE OF NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at a Saturday, May 2 press briefing in Trenton.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Fifty-three New Jersey hospitals will be receiving $1.7 billion in federal aid next week, as the pressure on hospitals amid the COVID-19 outbreak begins to decrease.

Gov. Phil Murphy learned of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funding late Friday afternoon. It is the second-largest amount of funding awarded to any state, behind New York, he said.

State officials have not yet released the names of the hospitals that will be receiving aid.

“We cannot afford to lose one hospital, or frankly even one nurse, or one doctor, from any hospital,” Murphy said.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said hospitals in New Jersey’s northern region have seen a 41 percent decrease in hospitalizations since the peak on April 14.

The number of COVID-19 cases is starting to rise again, Murphy said, but state officials do not have the denominator behind it. Part of it may be due to an increase in infections, he said, but it may also be due to New Jersey having increased access to testing capabilities.

“I want to say, this is the end, this has been as tough a week of fatalities that we’ve ever had,” Murphy said. But it has also been a significant week for federal assistance starting to arrive. New Jersey will also be receiving 550,000 testing kits and 750,000 swabs from the government. “Some weeks, I’ve been up here pounding the table saying we need X or Y or more.” The assistance that has come through is appreciated, he said, but New Jersey will still need substantial amounts of monetary aid.

On Saturday, May 2, officials reported 2,912 reported new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 123,717. On Friday, 2,651 new cases were reported.

As of 10 p.m. Friday, 5,713 people were in the hospital, with 1,715 in critical care, and 1,230 on ventilators. Last night, 525 patients were discharged and 378 people were admitted.

On Thursday 5,972 people were hospitalized, with 41 percent of the patients on ventilators. Yesterday, 532 people were admitted, while 571 were released from hospitals.

On Saturday,  205 new deaths were reported, bringing the statewide death toll to 7,742. The day before, there were 311 deaths.

On Friday, Montclair’s reported COVID-19 cases rose from 365 to 371, and the deaths rose from 43 to 44.

As of 9 a.m. Saturday, Essex County was reporting 14,439 total cases and 1,273 deaths, up from 14,206 cases and 1,241 deaths reported on Friday.

Saturday marked the first day in just over a month that New Jersey state and county parks have been officially open to the public. Montclair also opened its parks back up on Saturday.

Murphy said state officials would be keeping a close eye on the situation with the parks, as well as the case number charts over the next few days. If an increase in cases occurs or reports of widespread noncompliance with social distancing rules, the state will not hesitate to close the parks again, he said..

“If we hear minimal reports of knucklehead behavior in our parks, and see the metrics we need to meet being met over the next couple of days and weeks, we will see that you have all taken to heart your responsibility – continue to take to heart, I might add, you’ve done an extraordinary job so far, to help us mitigate this pandemic,” Murphy said.