By Cleve Bryan


TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey’s death toll from the coronavirus has nearly doubled in the last two days as nearly 2,500 new cases were reported on Thursday. With cases and deaths mounting, President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for the state.

“I cannot say this in any stronger possible terms how important it is that we pull through this together,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Offering New Jerseyans encouragement to keep enduring the coronavirus pandemic, Murphy announced, by far, the largest single-day jump in positive COVID-19 cases. Murphy reported 2,492 new positive test results and 19 more deaths. That brings the state totals to 6,876 cases and 81 deaths.

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“We’ve told you these numbers are going up, sadly the number of lost lives is going up. Our job is to fight fiercely with unlimited resources to save as many of those lives as possible,” Murphy said.

Among the new resources to fight the virus, New Jersey received a FEMA major disaster declaration which will increase state aid. In particular, New Jersey is trying to acquire more critical care capacity and ventilators for severely sick people.

“Our expectation is that the need for critical beds is being felt now and prior to what we would call the actual surge of all cases requiring hospitalization,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

Cooper Health has now been assigned the task of monitoring surge capacity and helping coordinate the state response for all hospitals in South Jersey.

On the economic front, New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority passed a $75 million measure to bring grants and no-interest loans to struggling businesses.

“Overall, this program will be able to provide direct financial assistance and support for, we believe, 3,000 and 5,000 small businesses,” Murphy said.

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Murphy says amid the mounting challenges, New Jerseyans need to do their part continuing with self-isolation and social distancing.

“There is a reason and it is a big reason, we want to be on the battlefield saving every single life we can. Keeping the number of folks who are ill to as small a number as humanly possible,” Murphy said.

Murphy also said all school districts will remain closed through at least April 17.

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