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'Let's Win This War'; Gov. Murphy Urges New Jerseyans To Take Precautions Following Thanksgiving COVID Surge

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) -- It was a record breaking weekend for COVID-19 cases in New Jersey.

Health officials attribute the number of infected to Thanksgiving gatherings, CBS2's Meg Baker reported Monday.

Now, they're warning about the upcoming winter holidays as hospitals across the state see outbreaks among health care workers.

Gov. Phil Murphy compared the fight against coronavirus to war.

"Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Pres. Franklin Roosevelt stood before Congress and stirred our nation with the following call: 'With the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God,' said Murphy. "Let us resolve the same on Dec. 7, 2020. Let's win this war."

Health officials are stressing that what people do next is a matter of life and death.

MORE: Gov. Murphy Reveals Most Infected With COVID-19 Not Cooperating With State's Contact Tracers

A record 6,000 cases were reported over the weekend. Another 3,500 were confirmed Monday.

State Medical Director Ed Lifshitz expressed his frustration with the disruption to daily life and the holidays, but highlighted the need to hold strong.

"What I really hate, is thinking about the families of more than 15,000 New Jerseyans who have died. I'm sorry that I won't be able to see my friends and extended family this holiday season. I will miss them, but it is temporary," he said.


Hundreds, if not thousands, of health care workers have contracted the virus. Their union is calling on legislators to pass a law that requires hospitals to report infected workers to the state. Unlike nursing home data, this is not currently included in the health department's daily briefings.

"If our workers are home sick, who is going to care for these patients? We simply will not have the staff to meet the peak of this surge that we believe is coming in January and February," said Debbie White, a registered nurse and president of Health Professionals & Allied Employees.

MORE: New Jersey Coronavirus: Outdoor Gatherings Now Limited To 25 Or Less

The bill passed the state senate, but is stalled in the assembly.

"If I, myself, am the patient, I would like to know what's going on around me in my environment," said Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

"My guess is that people within the hospital association, or the hospitals, are afraid that that information is going to scare people in terms of that specific hospital. I believe transparency is the best way to solve any problem," said Assemblyman Jon Bramnick.

Hackensack Meridian Health says it has enough staff to meet patients' needs and there is no evidence of transmission from team members to patients or vice versa.

Meantime, Gov. Murphy said he will consider an executive order requiring hospital transparency.

He also noted that 74% of people infected are not cooperating with contact tracers, leaving people vulnerable and blind to knowing if they've come in contact with an infected person.


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