Doctors urge New Jerseyans to do their part to prevent COVID-19 cases from increasing
Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in New Jersey, with Gov. Phil Murphy saying that a second wave is “crashing down on the state.” And while health care facilities aren’t anywhere near as overwhelmed as they were at the height of the pandemic, there are some fears that things could be headed that way once again.
There were just 50 cases of COVID-19 at Hackensack Meridian Heath Care System’s 17 hospitals on Labor Day. But two months later, there are many more.
“Today we have just over 450. So, we’ve seen a 9X increase in two months,” says chief physician executive Dr. Daniel Varga.
Varga says that it is a scary trend in the wrong direction. There are currently over 2,300 COVID-19 patients in New Jersey’s hospitals – the most since June 2. It is not close to the April high of over 8,000. But it is still too high for the health care workers on the front line.
“This second hit in an already fragile, although very tough paradoxically, group of people, you know they just got through the first wave,” Varga says. “They do feel the negative hit of folks saying it’s not that big of a deal, when they live with how big a deal it is every single day.”
Varga says that things are different this time around. He says that cases aren’t as severe with a younger population coming in for treatment. And he says that health care workers know more about COVID-19 and how to treat it. But he says that it is not an excuse for people to let their guard down.
“At the end of the day, even though we know how to do it better, if the math plays out where it’s just an even bigger cohort of people being infected, it’s still going to overwhelm the hospitals,” Varga says. “There is still every likelihood that will happen if we ignore what is going on out in the community.”
He says therefore it is important that all New Jerseyans play their part to flatten the curve once again.
Hackensack University Medical Center is closed to most visitors. Doctors explain this is primarily so they can continue providing all other hospital services while safely treating COVID patients.