GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — There’s been a slight decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases across the tri-state region, but deaths are increasing and hospitalizations remain higher than ever.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced a new mandate for New Jersey.READ MORE: Triple Shooting In West Oak Lane Leaves Man Dead, 2 Women Exiting Funeral Services At Church Injured, Philadelphia Police Say
Hospitals are being bombarded with patients who are critically sick and also people who aren’t, which is overwhelming the system. In response, Murphy on Wednesday announced new requirements for people who work in high-risk health care settings.
Murphy was at a new surge testing site in Galloway Township announcing a new executive order mandating all health care workers to be vaccinated and boosted and the elimination of a testing option.
“We are no longer going to look past those who continue to put their colleagues and perhaps, more importantly, those who are their responsibility in danger of COVID,” Murphy said.
While there are some encouraging trends, COVID-19 numbers in New Jersey are still breaking records.
“This one month has amounted to more than one-quarter of all of our cases since the start of the pandemic with the highest daily totals we were seeing at any of the peaks of the prior surges,” Murphy said.
Hospitals continue to struggle with the surge of COVID-19 patients in New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania.READ MORE: East Coventry Police Officer That Helped 2 Kids Escape Chester County House Fire Opens Up About Incident
“We’ve hit record numbers with this last surge,” said Dr. Jonathan Stallkamp of Main Line Health.
Stallkamp joined other Montgomery County hospital leaders for Dr. Val Arkoosh’s weekly briefing Wednesday.
“Montgomery County continues to experience an unprecedented number of cases,” Arkoosh said.
In addition to handling COVID-19 cases, hospitals are also being overwhelmed with minor situations.
“We have encountered a dramatic rise in the number of emergency department visits recently,” Dr. Kisha Martin, chair of emergency medicine at Holy Redeemer Health System, said. “Many of these patients are very sick, however, there are a fair number of patients that are coming purely for testing and when this happens, it delays care for patients who have true emergencies, it diverts lifesaving resources.”
In Delaware County, where hospitals continue to be overcapacity, thousands of volunteers with the Medical Reserve Corps are providing much-needed assistance.
“Some of the biggest challenges that we have are getting patients out who need mental health care and they wind up testing positive for COVID,” said Dr. Gary Zimmer, chief medical officer of Crozer Health, “so we have to keep them in quarantine until they’re able to get to a psychiatric hospital and similarly, long term care facilities.”MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Weather: 90's Arrive For Memorial Day
In addition to the record number of patients, health care facilities are also struggling with severe staffing shortages. With emergency departments, people are asked to only use them for true emergencies. It’s not the place for testing or minor complaints.