UPDATED 9:02 AM PT — Friday, May 8, 2020
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said nurses at long-term health care facilities need relief and back-up. The National Guard is being deployed to these facilities across the Garden State to provide assistance.
“Over 120 soldiers will be in the first tranche of assistance and we are working with our long-term care centers to back-fill the need they are not able to fill on their own,” announced the governor.
More than 8,800 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the state and over half of those deaths have been at long-term care facilities. There are also about 25,000 positive COVID-19 cases at more than 500 of these types of sites in the state.
“We don’t take this step lightly, but we take it knowing that the crisis in our long-term care facilities requires us to take it,” Gov. Murphy continued.
Today more than 800 New Jersey National Guard Soldiers & Airmen are activated in response to COVID-19. Members are securing test sites, augmenting medical staff at hospitals & nursing homes to protect our most vulnerable populations. #JerseyStrong @USNationalGuard pic.twitter.com/iY677pFGcM
— NJ National Guard (@NJNationalGuard) May 8, 2020
Members of the National Guard will be sent to various locations, including 22 troops at a nursing home in Sussex County. Dozens of deaths have been reported at the nursing home, which made headlines in April when a tip led officers to discover 17 bodies stored in the nursing home’s morgue. It was reported to be pushed beyond capacity.
National Guard troops will be engaging in “non-clinical” duties, including helping nurses with various non-medical tasks, janitorial work, culinary services and logistics.
Gov. Murphy is also taking steps toward his promise to make sweeping changes on how nursing homes are regulated and has hired a team of public health experts to issue recommendations to reform New Jersey’s long-term care facilities.