ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) -- Rather than checking out boats, campers or craft beers, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy got a much different tour of the Atlantic City Convention Center Tuesday. Thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Jersey's third field medical station is now ready with 258 beds to help hospitals, should they struggle to handle cases of COVID-19.
Fortunately, over the past week, hospital counts have stabilized and even declined. But health officials warn the spread of the coronavirus has probably not reached its peak yet in South Jersey.
"We need the capacity, whether we need it next week or a year from next week, we don't want to ever be caught out again and this is going to be one piece of a broader puzzle for us, in terms of not just beds, but beds and capacity," Murphy said.
After Atlantic City, Murphy stopped in Wildwood to see the extensive boardwalk damage caused by a storm earlier this month.
Mayor Pete Byron says Wildwood could use state assistance as they try to maintain and repair the aging boardwalk.
"Our concern is what would have happened if this happened in the middle of the summer. It's an eye-opener and potentially a foreshadow of things to come," Byron said.
Returning to Trenton in the afternoon, Murphy continued to describe the COVID-19 pandemic as manageable as far as hospitals are concerned.
But he lamented the mounting death toll, which grew to more than 4,700 as the state announced 379 new deaths Tuesday -- the single highest death count to date.
It's a main reason Murphy says he's not ready to make plans to reopen the state.
"We need to see this curve finally start to see its decline and so we must keep our strong social distancing and policies in place for at least the next several weeks," he said.
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