Coronavirus: NJ fighting COVID-19 head on

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By Bradford Mason

As more testing becomes available the number people diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise. New Jersey continues to make efforts to slow down the spread to bring things back to normal. 

Gov. Phil Murphy announced new partnerships with the private sector increasing the availability of COVID-19 testing in the Garden State. Testing for COVID-19 is now being performed in the state by both LabCorp and BioReference Laboratories, enhancing access to testing for state residents.  In addition, the state’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratories will be able to process over 1,000 tests a day and is developing specimen collection kits in order to relieve shortages of critical kit components.

“Every minute and hour of every day, we are taking aggressive steps to address the COVID-19 emergency,” said Murphy. “I am proud to work with our private sector laboratory partners, including LabCorp and BioReference, in the fight to end this crisis and return to normalcy. I am particularly proud that testing for COVID-19 is now being done in our state by private sector labs, at LabCorp’s facility in Raritan, and at BioReference’s lab in Elmwood Park NJ, and that our state lab is rapidly increasing its capacity to perform testing. This represents just one part of an unprecedented, collective effort across our entire healthcare system, and our entire state, to contain the spread of the virus and protect the lives of our residents. With these partnerships, we will be in a stronger position than ever before to identify the scope of COVID-19 in our state and to fight this virus head on.”

New Jersey U.S. Senator Corey Booker said the nation is facing a public health crisis that requires an immediate response across all levels of government.

"Expanding COVID-19 testing through this public private partnership will help our medical service providers get the information they need to contain the spread of this virus and protect the health and safety of New Jerseyans," he said. "I applaud Governor Murphy and his administration for their steadfast leadership through this crisis, and I stand committed to continue working with them in getting New Jerseyans the help they need.”

To ensure that individuals who are uninsured have access to testing for COVID-19, the Murphy Administration today required hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to waive patient fees for testing and related diagnostic services for those who lack health insurance.

As non-essential businesses remain closed, including stores, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, many New Jerseyans are starting to face the predicted financial hardship the coronavirus brings. 

On Friday,  As part of a coordinated regional effort to combat COVID-19, Murphy,  along withNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf urged the federal government to consider a fiscal stimulus in the form of a direct cash assistance program to provide an immediate financial infusion to all four states to help cover costs related to COVID-19 response operations. 

The four governors – whose states collectively represent 16 percent of the United States economy – made the request in a letter issued to President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

‘We owe an enormous debt to the relief efforts and resources that our federal partners have already provided," wrote Governors Murphy, Cuomo, Lamont, and Wolf. "But our challenges are expanding daily and just beginning. Our states have all stepped up to take unprecedented action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and do all we can to flatten the curve. We implore you to consider the devastating impact these efforts will have on our states – and millions of our residents – both in the immediate term and the months to come.”

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, joined by Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García of Illinois and Congressman Steve Cohen urged leaders in the House and Senate to include protections for workers and consumers in any financial assistance aimed at supporting the airline industry as part of further economic stimulus to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. 

“As we begin to deal with the toll COVID-19 will take economically, it’s obvious that we’ll need to offer support across a number of industries, aviation in particular. But what we cannot allow is a handout of taxpayer money without clear protections for the consumers who rely on these companies, and the workers at every level who keep them in business,” said Coleman. “As we look to build the next package of stimulus funds, we want to make sure American families are at the front of everyone’s minds. That’s a simple and critical step.”

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