One Year Later, It’s Our Chance to Conquer COVID

There have been a number of “one year later” recollections of COVID-19 the last few weeks – the first case, the first death, the first time the State of New Jersey went on lockdown. For hospitals and their teams of healthcare professionals, this week may bring to mind the most difficult period of the pandemic. On April 14, 2020, New Jersey hospitals reached the peak in COVID hospitalizations, a record 8,270 individuals admitted with severe COVID illness. More than 2,000 needed intensive care, requiring every available ICU bed in the state and propelling hospitals to rapidly transform cafeterias or hallways into overflow patient units.

It was a time when “healthcare hero” accolades were so deservedly heaped on our frontline workers. The virus was new and treatments were unknown, testing was inadequate, and there was a global competition for personal protective equipment and medications.

One year later, New Jersey and many other parts of the country find themselves facing a resurging virus. COVID hospitalizations increased about 20 percent in New Jersey in the last month alone. We’re at a juncture between the promise and protection that vaccination offers, and emerging variants that spread much more easily.

We mustn’t let history repeat itself. It’s a critical time – we all must continue to follow the personal precautions that protect ourselves, the people we love and our communities from this virus. Mask up. Follow social distancing guidelines. Wash your hands. Avoid large indoor gatherings. And, if you haven’t received the vaccine yet, join the millions of New Jerseyans who have and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

I think all of us are reflecting personally on this pandemic year. It impacted individuals and families in countless ways. New Jersey lost more than 21,000 people to COVID-19 in this year of pandemic, a tragedy without precedent. There is job loss and financial hardship, isolation, remote learning that challenges students and parents, stress and anxiety.

But we also stood strong. New Jersey hospitals with their teams of healthcare heroes saved more than 66,000 lives in this pandemic year, successfully treating and discharging patients with severe COVID illness. This includes a projected 7,000 patients who would have died if our hospitals had not bent the mortality curve through innovations and improvements in care developed over the last year.

All told, there are more than 730,000 COVID-19 survivors in New Jersey, representing those 66,000 lives saved in N.J. hospitals and approximately 664,000 individuals who contracted coronavirus but didn’t require hospitalization. Each one is a light in this dark year.

All New Jerseyans adjusted their lives to confront a once-a-century health crisis, and that makes each one a survivor. We can persevere a little longer and do our part – through personal precautions and vaccination – so that New Jersey conquers COVID once and for all.

Cathy Bennett is president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association.

Icn Link About the Author

Cathy Bennett is president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association, a not-for-profit trade association for New Jersey’s healthcare community.

Icn Link Nurse Talk Menu

See our full list of Nurse Talk articles.
View Articles >>

Return to the Nurse Talk Homepage.
Click here >>