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Study: New Jersey Needs 100,000 Hospital Beds Or More As Cases Rise Above 4,000

Holy Name Medical Center
Holy Name Medical Center Photo Credit: Holy Name Medical Center/Jeff Rhode

New Jersey had more than 4,000 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday with a total of 62 deaths, officials said.

New Jersey has more than 18,000 acute care beds including 2,000 for critical care patients, Murphy said. Officials are working to increase the capacity by 2,360 beds over the next several weeks.

But according to a study by researchers at Rutgers University-Camden, that's not nearly enough.

The state's need for additional beds triples to 300,000 if residents fail to follow social distance guidelines between now and May, the study estimates.   

Rutgers University projected the need for beds in South Jersey to treat patients with coronavirus.

Rutgers University-Camden

"We need to expand our hospital capacity -- this is a given," Gov. Phil Murphy said at Wednesday's press briefing.

"Hospitals are under tremendous stress and are currently meeting the needs of patients who require hospitalization, but we must be ready for the time when the surge comes."

Rutgers' numbers are based on Italy’s experience that about half of all COVID-19 patients need inpatient care for seven to 14 days. 

“This report does not lead us, and should not lead anyone, to panic,” according to the analysis by the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers. 

“To the contrary, the report points to our ability to minimize COVID-19 risk by implementing social distancing policies and practices," the researchers concluded.

In a best-case scenario, the eight-county region that comprises South Jersey could run short by 33,500 hospital beds in October. Rutgers defined South Jersey as Atlantic, Burlington, Ocean, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.

In that eight-county region of 2.4 million people, there are currently 5,689 hospital beds, more than half of which are usually occupied, the Rutgers study said.

Holy Name Medical Center

Holy Name Medical Center/Jeff Rhode

If residents do not follow aggressive social distancing measures, the shortage of beds in South Jersey would rise to as many as 85,000 in May, according to the study.

New Jersey officials are working bringing closed hospitals back in their entirety, adding 1,360 beds. 

Field hospitals will soon go up at convention centers in Secaucus, Edison and Atlantic City, said Murphy, noting there would be one hospital in each region of the state.

"We have been working aggressively to expand hospital capacity," Murphy said. "We are in this fight to save lives. Everyone is indispensable. We will fight to save every single life. We will leave nothing on the battle field in that effort."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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