Murphy vows to build N.J.’s stockpile of PPE for next health emergency

ROI-NJ An N95 mask.

“The Road Back,” Gov. Phil Murphy’s six-point plan to restore the state’s economic health through public health, is about much more than just the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murphy, when he presented the plan during his daily COVID-19 briefing Monday, said he hopes its principles will be passed to future governors and will be used to handle future health crises.

This is especially true when it comes to personal protection equipment and testing kits, the two biggest challenges the state has faced during COVID-19.

“I will be looking to see that our hospitals and health care systems — and anywhere else health care is delivered — have the personal protective equipment, ventilators, supplies and staff they will need to provide the highest quality of services,” he said.

Governor’s Office
Gov. Phil Murphy wears a face mask while touring a field hospital site.

New Jersey, Murphy said, found out the hard way how difficult it is to rely on others. That must change, he said.

“We cannot find ourselves in another situation where we must rely on the federal government, or our corporate and philanthropic partners, to source what we need,” he said. “We must build our resiliency now.

“And, governmentally, we now have a playbook that we have put together and can refer to — or hand off to future administrations — complete with the framework for the dozens of executive orders and other processes necessary for facing a global pandemic head on and emerging stronger from it.”

Murphy said New Jersey will have its own stockpile of PPE going forward.

“At the state level, we will ensure that we, too, have the supplies to backstop our health care facilities, and our first responders and essential workers,” he said. “That means building our own state stockpile of PPE — from masks to gloves and everything in-between — so we can properly outfit not just our front-line health and public safety responders, but also our essential workforce.

“And, it also means we must have ventilators on hand that we can push out to hospitals before they hit crisis mode. Throughout this process, we have purchased hundreds of ventilators. Don’t think for a moment that we’re going to be sending any of them back once the current emergency ends.”

Murphy stressed COVID-19 is not likely to be a one-time event.

“We cannot think of COVID-19 as a one-and-done,” he said. “Whether we are hit with a rebound of COVID-19, or a different strain, or an altogether new virus outbreak, we have learned valuable lessons that we would be foolish to ignore.”

Murphy said one of the biggest lessons of the future is that the state needs to be ready to protect all of its citizens. Residents in underserved communities have been hit harder by COVID-19.

“Ensuring New Jersey’s resiliency for the next outbreak — and that no one will be left unprotected because of racial or socioeconomic status — must be part of our response to this outbreak,” he said. “COVID-19 showed no favorites in ravaging our state, and neither will we in preparing for the next wave.

“We must use this window of opportunity to fill gaps and fortify our health care system.”

Pandemics, Murphy said, are not just found in the movies.

“In the course of just two months, our entire world — and our entire worldview —has changed,” he said. “Pandemics aren’t something in a far-off place that we just read about in the news anymore. We are living it right here in one of the most advanced states in the most advanced nation in the world.”

Read more from ROI-NJ on coronavirus: