NJ Gov. Phil Murphy On WFAN: Health Care Capacity Being Expanded, Many More Ventilators Needed

Provides Updates On State's Fight Against Coronavirus

Moose & Maggie
March 31, 2020 - 12:01 pm

Repeatedly referring to the coronavirus outbreak as "war," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told WFAN's "Moose and Maggie" show Tuesday that the state is working vigorously to add hospital capacity and acquire life-saving equipment while stressing that residents should stay at home as much as possible.

As of Tuesday, New Jersey was reporting 16,636 cases of COVID-19 and 198 deaths.

"We're waging two wars at the same time," Murphy said by phone. "One is the social distancing, stay home, crack the back of the curve. And if we could do that, we don't swamp the health care system. And on the health care system side, building out capacity as best we can."

Murphy said four field hospitals of 250 beds each are being erected. State officials are also looking into the possibility of reopening shuttered hospital wings and converting dorm rooms and hotels into spaces where patients can be treated, the governor said.

Murphy tweeted on Monday that "in 10 days, we would be expecting to exhaust our entire supply of available hospital beds."

Meanwhile, the governor said the state is "turning over every stone" in trying to purchase more ventilators and personal protection equipment for health care workers. He said FEMA delivered 300 ventilators and more protective gear to the state overnight, but that it's still not enough. New Jersey has requested 2,000 more ventilators from the federal government and is trying to independently acquire an additional 2,000 ventilators.

"I'll leave why to the historians, but we just didn't come into this as a nation with the right stockpile to anticipate a pandemic like this. So we're all scrambling," said Murphy, who added that the implementation of FDA-approved technology that will allow more than one patient to use a single ventilator is "imminent."

Murphy said that he's also concerned about the possibility that down the road, after New Jersey and New York have driven down the number of cases and begin to return to normal life, that visitors from other states that did not issue similar stay-at-home orders could cause a second wave of the coronavirus being spread in the tri-state area. 

As for the state's businesses and workers who have been devastated financially by the outbreak, Murphy said he believes the $2 trillion relief package the federal government passed and President Donald Trump signed last week is a "huge step in the right direction," but "we're going to need a whole lot more."

Murphy said he empathizes with New Jersey residents who are feeling scared right now.

"I would just say folks with anxiety, I completely understand it," the governor said. "Who wouldn't have it right now?

"It is a war. And we don't win wars when we panic. We certainly don't win wars with business as usual, just as importantly. So the key for us is to be smart, aggressive, proactive, be straight with each other -- in other words, we've got to tell folks the facts just as we see them, where we are, where we're headed. We cannot turn on each other. We are the most diverse state in the country, and we wear that as a badge of honor, and ironically, at the same time, we're as tight-knit a state as any state in America. We can't ever undo that. We've got to go through this together."

To listen to the full interview with Gov. Murphy, click on the audio player above.