NJ hospitals brace for continued increase of COVID-19 cases amid holiday season

New Jersey hospitals are bracing for COVID-19 cases to continue increasing because of the holiday season.

News 12 Staff

Nov 15, 2020, 3:27 AM

Updated 1,318 days ago

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New Jersey hospitals are bracing for COVID-19 cases to continue increasing because of the holiday season.
Gov. Phil Murphy's administration reported Saturday nearly 4,400 new cases of the virus in the state— the most in a day since the start of the pandemic.
During the peak in the spring, the state wasn't testing nearly as much. Still, experts say they are concerned.
The state also reported that 2,000 people were hospitalized and 26 new deaths. Intensive care up was up Saturday by 11 and ventilators were up by a handful. The rate of transmission is 1.35%.
While new cases matter, officials say the amount of hospitalizations is what largely drives policy.
During the first wave, 8,000 people were hospitalized.
With Bergen County seeing more than 400 new COVID-19 cases, that makes it one of the counties seeing the highest rates of new cases.
The upward trend of new hospitalizations has been going on for about a month, according to Dr. Adam Jarrett, the chief medical officer at Holy Name Medical Center. He says he doesn't see these numbers going down in the near future, but that the hospital is prepared.
"We're seeing growth and then a leveling off of patients, and maybe even a slight decrease and then we're seeing a slight increase again," Dr. Jarrett says. "I am concerned that between Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's, we make it up to significantly higher numbers of patients than we have."
He links many of these new hospitalizations to Halloween gatherings. If Halloween was an issue, Dr. Jarrett and other doctors across the country are concerned if hospitals are prepared for the upcoming holidays.
Dr. James Phillips, the chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, says,
"I'm just terrified of what's going to happen with Thanksgiving and the holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah. People are going to travel. People that would normally travel because they don't believe in the science, and people who are fatigued, who are willing to take their chances."
Due to more testing, treatments and mask wearing, Dr. Jarrett says he believes this round of new cases will be better handled by hospitals. He is cautiously optimistic about a potential vaccine in the coming months but for now, he says the best form of protection is already widely available— masks.
"In a hypothetical world, if someone could say to me you have a vaccine tomorrow or every single American will agree to wear a mask, I would choose masks," Dr. Jarret says. "Masks are the most effective tool, and we saw that back in March and April and we're seeing that now."
While the hospital is equipped with more negative pressure rooms and beds to treat more patients, it says it could use more critical care nurses and soon, like many other hospitals, more gloves.


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