NJ COVID-19 deaths top 14K; ventilator use sees 'significant increase'

By 1010 WINS

TRENTON, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- Gov. Phil Murphy reported 12 new COVID-19 deaths on Friday, pushing New Jersey's death toll past 14,000. 

A total of 14,007 people in New Jersey have now died of complications related to COVID-19, Murphy said during a briefing Friday afternoon. The state is also investigating 1,853 probable COVID-19 deaths. 

Seven of the 12 people who died passed away within the past five days, he noted. Murphy also reported 384 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the state’s case total to 184,061. 

As of Thursday, 551 people in the state were hospitalized with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, 120 of whom were in intensive care units and 74 of whom were on ventilators. 

“Ventilator use has seen a significant increase,” Murphy said. “No one can have a cavalier attitude about this virus.” 

The state will be adding a new contact tracing dashboard to its online COVID-19 tracker, Murphy said Friday. The new dashboard “will allow everyone to see where our corps of 1,344 contact tracers is currently on the job, as well as the latest information on their efforts,” he said. 

New Jersey will continue to add contact tracers to its existing team until there are 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents in each county. After that, it will “double” those numbers, he said.

On the topic of school reopenings, Murphy said the New Jersey Department of Education has released a “Frequently Asked Questions” list for its school districts. The governor also said schools will be required to provide free and reduced-price meals to eligible students, even if school days end up being shortened or virtual learning is in place. 

Murphy on Friday also announced a new “Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program,” which will provide $25 million in funding to small rental apartment building owners who have lost rental income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Landlords who receive funding will have to “pass along the benefits to their tenants by forgiving outstanding back rent and late fees accumulated during this period,” he said. 

“The majority of low- and moderate-income renters live in buildings with between three and ten rental units,” he said. “By assisting small landlords, we’re helping to secure quality rental housing by protecting their investment in the maintenance of their properties.”

New Jersey’s eviction moratorium, which bars landlords from evicting tenants for the duration of the pandemic, is still in effect, Murphy reminded New Jerseyans. 

“Tenants for whom evictions have been filed may choose to participate in court mediation purely at their option,” he noted. “Choosing not to do so will not lead to eviction.”