Long Term Care Facilities Nj - An ambulance and police parked outside the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Sussex County last month.Ed Murray | Advance Media for
NOTE: This story and its headline have been updated to reflect how the state classifies coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities.
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Nine weeks after the outbreak of the coronavirus in New Jersey - the second largest among US states - more than a third of the states officially attributed to the disease occurred in long-term care facilities.
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That doesn't account for an additional 1,400 institutional deaths that officials believe are related to COVID-19.
The state reported that 3,440 of the 9,116 laboratory-confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 — or about 38% — occurred in facilities that include nursing homes and veterans' homes.
Meanwhile, officials say there are 1,385 deaths believed to be linked to the virus, although the victim has not been tested. These are not included in the country's total number of deaths, a measurement that uses only laboratory-confirmed deaths.
Adding the two together, there were 4,825 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths in institutions as of Saturday afternoon, according to the state's coronavirus tracking website. This is 134 more than on Friday.
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Overall, there were 26,031 positive tests at 515 state long-term care facilities, according to the website. It is not clear whether this includes only residents or workers in the facilities.
The number of deaths and cases in institutions has been increasing almost daily for weeks, even though only 61,000 of New Jersey's 9 million residents live in nursing homes.
The number of positive cases and deaths associated with our long-term care facilities continues to increase. We have established significant new levels of surveillance and the @NationalGuard will deploy some of its members this weekend to assist with mitigation at several facilities. pic.twitter.com/fZeqGlS2Am — Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 9, 2020
The numbers follow a national trend. According to a New York Times report, about one-third of all U.S. coronavirus deaths have occurred in nursing homes.
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"It's not just about New Jersey," Gov. Phil Murphy told NBC's "Today" during an interview Friday morning. "This is a national tragedy. It's like dry wood in a forest fire."
However, state Sen. Joseph Pennachio, R-Morris, accused Murphy, a Democrat, of not doing enough to prepare and protect "the most vulnerable people in our population, our seniors who live near nursing homes." The Republican lawmaker said the state was aware of an outbreak at a Washington nursing home in January and had weeks to prepare before the New Jersey outbreak began on March 4.
Asked Saturday during his daily briefing on the coronavirus in Trenton if he thought the country could do more, Murphy said: "I don't know of any place in America that, on reflection, wants that, if only...".
"You see the loss of life," the governor said. "The performance of operators was extremely disappointing - not in all cases, but in too many cases. Uneven, lack of communication."
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The issue came into focus in mid-April after reports of bodies piling up in a makeshift morgue at an Andover nursing home. Murphy said he is "outraged" and the attorney general's office has launched an investigation into how long-term care facilities have responded to the pandemic.
Murphy announced Wednesday that the state is bringing in outside consultants to help with the outbreak at the facilities and will now test all residents and staff.
And on Thursday, the governor announced that the state would send 120 National Guard troops to the facilities to serve as "reserve."
"When we do our own autopsy in New Jersey, there will be a big focus on long-term care," Murphy said Saturday.
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Overall, New Jersey officials reported 166 new deaths attributed to the coronavirus and 1,759 new positive tests on Saturday. This means that the total number so far is at least 137,085 cases. Only New York has more deaths and cases among US states.
More than half of the known deaths in New Jersey were caused by underlying illnesses, according to the state's tracking website. The state reported Friday that a 4-year-old girl with an underlying medical condition was the first child to die from complications related to COVID-19.
Although officials say the daily number of cases and hospitalizations continues to decline, Murphy has not yet given a definitive timetable for lifting his stay-at-home and business closures, which he instituted seven weeks ago to help fight the virus. He said the country risks seeing the number jump again if it rushes to reopen and urged residents to maintain social distance.
If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation. New Jersey reported 2,745 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing its total to 463,965 since the pandemic began. 3,684 residents are receiving hospital care for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, and 715 are receiving critical care and about two-thirds are on ventilators, according to a briefing with Gov. Phil Murphy.
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Another 73 deaths were reported in hospitals, bringing the total number of lives lost to 16,706. The percentage of positive for the country on December 24 is 10.98%.
"Some numbers have been down a little bit over the last couple of days, but we're not ready to call it a trend," Murphy said.
New Jersey, along with about three dozen other states, began vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities against the coronavirus on Monday.
Governor Phil Murphy visited residents at the Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge, Middlesex County, as they received their first few injections. Registered nurse Esther Moodey and resident Mildred Clements, 103, were the first recipients.
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"I thank God for the covid-19 vaccine," said Moodey, who works in the center's ward that cares for covid-19 patients and those suspected of having the virus.
Vaccine doses in New Jersey are distributed by CVS and Walgreens in partnership with the federal government.
BIG DAY: Honored to witness 103-year-old Mildred Clements of Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge become the FIRST long-term care resident to be vaccinated in New Jersey. She was followed by nurse Esther Moodey. Congratulations, Mildred and Esther! pic.twitter.com/3Gb7wUv1Oe — Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) December 28, 2020
According to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, 655 long-term care facilities in the state will receive vaccines under the program, and more than 200 are already on the waiting list to receive doses to residents and staff. Most will get their doses from CVS.
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These employees "went through the darkest days during the first wave in April and continue to care for our residents, our mothers and fathers, our grandparents and our loved ones every day," she said.
More than 7,000 residents and staff at long-term care facilities in New Jersey have died from Covid-19, prompting a federal investigation.
Republicans such as former Gov. Chris Christie and gubernatorial candidate Douglas Steinhardt criticized Murphy's leadership after the state missed a deadline last week to begin administering the vaccine in community settings.
"We decided ... to reach out to a much broader range of communities in our country. Our role was much broader, much larger than any other American state by definition," Murphy said, arguing that the delay allowed a larger group of New Jerseyans to participate in federally funded vaccinations, including residential facilities for persons with developmental disabilities.
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What is it like to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Some of the first people to receive it described how the Health Desk Help Bureau felt.
Going forward, Persichilli said the country plans to vaccinate 70% of the country's eligible adult population within six months. "Yes, it's an ambitious and aggressive but necessary goal," she said.
By the end of January, according to the health commissioner, more than 200 vaccination sites will be open throughout the country. Priority recipients include the nation's 650,000 health care workers, as well as long-term care workers and their residents.
This month, New Jersey received 405,000 doses of the vaccine, with 120,000 reserved for long-term care facilities and 280,000 for hospitals and communities.
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Since December 14, the first week the vaccines were available, 46,217 doses have been given. In addition to nursing homes and hospital systems, 134 community facilities have received or will receive vaccines this week. This includes federally qualified health centers, counties, Shoprite grocery store pharmacies, primary care and urgent care members, and Rowan University School of Medicine.
As for whether access to vaccines will soon lead to fewer regulations to mitigate the coronavirus, Murphy said he is not ready to ease restrictions. "We will stay where we are," he said, but will make a decision on the ban on indoor sports, which expires on Saturday.
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