Hudson County hospitals are scrambling to get enough equipment together to deal with what will likely be a steadily increasing caseload of COVID-19 patients in the days and weeks to come. Even in the midst of repeated warnings and media reports worldwide documenting the impact of Coronavirus on medical centers, locations here in one of the most densely populated areas of the country find themselves perilously low on everything from ventilators to personal protective equipment.
Hoboken has 56 cases of coronavirus, seeing its largest one-day increase today yesterday with 16 new cases.
“Today, I joined Council President Jen Giattino and officials from CarePoint to make an urgent plea to the federal government to secure additional resources for our local hospital. According to hospital officials, the hospital is projected to run out of personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks, surgical masks, gowns, gloves, and more in less than six days,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
“The surge didn’t happen yet, and our resources are already strained,” said Ann Logan, CarePoint Chief Hospital Executive. “We anticipate within two to three weeks to be at peak surge capacity.”
Logan, whose company runs several hospitals in the area that are currently unprepared for this event, said, “There are resources available from the Federal Government. We need them today.”
Video via Hudson County View:
“I’m grateful to the efforts of our federal and state leaders, especially Governor Murphy, Senator Menendez, Senator Booker and Congressman Sires for their work on the stimulus bill that recently passed the Senate, which could soon unlock resources,” said Bhalla. “Our plea today was for Hoboken’s hospital to receive its fair share, where lives are on the lines and decisions are being made based on the equipment in stock.”
Meanwhile in Jersey City, officials are taking equipment from the schools and repurposing it for medical use, as facilities there are also buckling under the caseload.
Recent reports out of Jersey City had the number at 130 cases, with a number of fatalities. Hudson County has 441 cases as of Thursday, with numbers certain to rise.
Friday morning, Jersey City opened two new testing sites, one drive-thru site and one walk-up site, located on either side of Jersey City to best accommodate Jersey City residents.
“We know testing is key to fight the virus, so we decided to use city funds to give better resources to Jersey City residents,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “Our residents deserve the best access to healthcare and testing, and we know these testing sites are an important part of the equation.”
The drive-thru site is in the southwest section of the city outside of the former DPW complex, located at 575 NJ-440. This set up allows residents to drive up and show proof of address, before being swabbed and driving away.
The second location in the East is walk-up testing site with an expedited process out of the Public Safety Headquarters building located at 465 Marin Boulevard.
The sites will send the tests the same vendor the state sites are using, which averages 72 hours to return results.
“We’re seeing the number of positive cases rise steeply nationwide, inundating our hospital system and compromising abilities to handle the further influx of positives as this virus continues to spread,” said Stacey Flanagan, Director of Jersey City’s Health and Human Services. “It’s proven that intervention and testing works to significantly slow the pace of the epidemic which will greatly help us provide care while lowering numbers of critically ill and overall positive cases.”
Both sites will follow an appointment-only system with proof of address (a recent phone, electric, or gas bill) upon arrival. Any resident who have been exposed to the virus and are exhibiting symptoms – dry cough, fever, or shortness of breath – is asked to call the COVID Call Center 201-547-5535 to make an appointment. Sites and the Call Center will be open 7 days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We cannot get complacent,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. “We expect to enter a rough period in the very near future as the number of positive cases continues to climb. If we can confirm who has it and who doesn’t through these testing sites, we’ll have much more control over this situation as we’ve learned from the cities overseas who have been battling the virus for months.”