TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey now ranks second in the nation for the most coronavirus cases, at 4,402.
Gov. Phil Murphy says the state's hospitals are on the verge of crippling under the strain of coronavirus patients, CBS2's Jessica Moore reported Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the governor confirmed 736 new positive cases in the state and 18 additional deaths, bringing the state's total to 4,402 known active cases and 62 deaths related to COVID-19 infections.
"Given the current trajectory of new cases, we have known that we'll need to increase hospital capacity," said Murphy. "I've said, at the moment, as under stress as our system is -- and the heroism is being played out every minute -- we are able to withstand this at the moment, but at a certain point we have known all along we'll need to increase our hospital capacity."
The state currently has 18,433 acute care beds and 2,000 equipped for critical care. Murphy said New Jersey needs to increase capacity by about 2,400 beds.
Murphy said the state can reduce the shortfall by increasing capacity and reducing the need for beds.
State health officials are considering reopening closed hospitals and using college dorms, medical wards, nursing homes, and convention centers to expand hospital bed capacity.
They are currently working with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to set up three field hospitals across the state:
- In Northern Jersey, The Meadowlands in Secaucus.
- In Central Jersey, the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison.
- In Southern Jersey, the Atlantic City Convention Center in A.C.
"In terms of the beds, there is some flexibility on numbers but we will have them," said Murphy. "These steps will allow us to expand hospital capacity in the short term and greater flexibility for our healthcare system."
The governor took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to remind everyone that the state is closed:
"To non-essential non-retail businesses refusing to follow our work-from-home order: This is not a polite suggestion," he said. "It is an order. This is about public health and people's lives."
He followed the message with a link to report those who violate his executive order at covid19.nj.gov/violation.
The Army Corps of Engineers is also looking at building new wings on existing hospitals.
Murphy said he will "stay the course" with coronavirus restrictions if President Donald Trump tries to lift them prematurely.
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