GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ (CBS) — There has been a slight decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the tri-state area, but deaths are rising and hospitalizations remain higher than ever.
Governor Phil Murphy announced a new term for New Jersey on Wednesday.
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Hospitals are bombarded with seriously ill patients and people who are not, overwhelming the system. In response, Murphy on Wednesday announced new requirements for people who work in high-risk health care settings.
Murphy was at a new surge testing site in Galloway Township announcing a new executive order requiring all healthcare workers to be vaccinated and reinforced and the elimination of a testing option.
“We are no longer going to look beyond those who continue to put their colleagues and perhaps, more importantly, those under their care at risk from COVID,” Murphy said.
While there are encouraging trends, New Jersey’s COVID-19 numbers are still breaking records.
“This month has accounted for more than a quarter of all our cases since the start of the pandemic with the highest daily totals we’ve seen at any of the peaks of previous surges,” Murphy said.
Hospitals continue to battle the influx of COVID-19 patients in New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania.
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“We hit record numbers with this latest push,” said Dr. Jonathan Stallkamp of Main Line Health.
Stallkamp joined other Montgomery County hospital leaders for Dr. Val Arkoosh’s weekly briefing on Wednesday.
“Montgomery County continues to experience an unprecedented number of cases,” Arkoosh said.
In addition to treating COVID-19 cases, hospitals are also overwhelmed with minor situations.
“We have recently encountered a dramatic increase in the number of emergency room visits,” said Dr. Kisha Martin, head of emergency medicine at Holy Redeemer Health System. “Many of these patients are very sick, however, there are a good number of patients who come just for tests and when that happens it delays care for patients who have real emergencies, it diverts vital resources. “
In Delaware County, where hospitals continue to be overcrowded, thousands of Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are providing much-needed assistance.
“Some of the biggest challenges we have are getting patients out who need mental health care and they end up testing positive for COVID,” said Dr. Gary Zimmer, Chief Medical Officer of Crozer Health, “we we must therefore keep them in quarantine until they can go to a psychiatric hospital and, in the same way, to long-term care facilities.
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In addition to the record number of patients, healthcare facilities are also grappling with severe staff shortages. With emergency services, people are asked to only use them for real emergencies. This is not the place for testing or minor complaints.