This Week in Politics: Phil Murphy on the Pandemic
New Jersey has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and that has placed Governor Phil Murphy directly in the spotlight. For the first time since he took office two years ago, a large portion of the people of New Jersey are getting a close look at Murphy's leadership style and his personality. The governor had surgery on March 4 th to remove a cancerous tumor on his kidney and had to immediately shift from his own recovery to leading the state's response to the coronavirus.
about Murphy's turn on the national stage.
Rutgers Lab Helps Create a Faster Cheaper COVID-19 Test
A lab at the Rutgers University School of Medicine in Newark helped produce a faster and cheaper test for COVID-19 that is now arriving at hospitals in New York and New Jersey.
The test only takes about 45 minutes to receive a result, and can be used in hospitals, doctor's offices and eventually pharmacies. Some people with COVID-19 symptoms have been waiting for two weeks to get results from the current testing method.
The new test was developed by Cepheid of California and approved by the FDA on March 21.
"Everything got done with lightning speed," said Dr. David Alland, chief of infectious disease at the Rutgers School of Medicine. He has been working with Cepheid for many years and says the test they developed for tuberculosis took about 10 years to reach the market.
"This is done in a bio-safety level 3 laboratory where everyone's wearing the equivalent of spacesuits," Alland said. "Going in and out of a laboratory can take 15 to 20 minutes. So a bathroom break is a big deal. You can't scratch your nose. You can't wipe the sweat off your face."
Cepheid has shipped 23,000 tests around the world, and some of those have already landed in New Jersey and New York hospitals according to a company spokesman. Cepheid has ramped up production and says it's currently manufacturing tests around the clock.
The Docket: What Powers Does The Government Have During A Pandemic?
On March 13, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, an increasing number of states have instituted curfews, stay-at-home orders and other emergency measures to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. But those actions also raise questions about civil rights and constitutional liberties in the midst of a public health crisis.
The last major global pandemic that caused damage on the scale of the current crisis was told WNYC's Jami Floyd.
"The precedents that we have suggest that governments get a fair amount of discretion in these circumstances," said Vladeck . "But it's been a long time since the Supreme Court ever had a case that raised this kind of question, and it's never has a case that raised it at a nationwide level."
According to Vladeck, a specialist in federal jurisdiction, constitutional law and national security, it comes down to several issues, including the balance between state and federal powers, and what qualifies as a constitutional right.
"If a city wanted to say that our parks are only open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., I'm not sure that there would be an especially compelling argument that we have a constitutional right to go to the park at 9 p.m.," Vladeck said. "It gets messier when we start talking about religious observation, because that's where the ground shifts from just a general right to enjoy the outdoors to a specific right to free exercise of religion."
For the full conversation, click "Listen."
The Docket is our series in which WNYC’s All Things Considered host Jami Floyd takes a deep dive into the American legal system.
EMT's Get Controversial New Guidelines On Taking Some Patients To The Hospital
With so many New York City hospitals stretched to their limits responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency technicians and paramedics are being given controversial new guidelines on taking cardiac arrest patients to emergency rooms.
The Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City is responsible for laying out rules for emergency workers. This week it instructed EMTs responding to cases involving someone over 18 to do everything they can on the scene -- but if they can't revive the patient after 20 minutes, they can no longer take the patient to the hospital.
, the council says the move is meant to protect first responders from even more possible exposure to COVID-19 in enclosed spaces during an ambulance ride to the hospital, as well as easing the burden on emergency rooms.
"In the end, when resuscitation is not successful, the risk of transporting somebody with CPR in progress during this pandemic is greater than the benefit," said Josef Schenker, one of the council's leaders.
But some are afraid of how the public will react to the new rules. Oren Bazilay is president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors – F.D.N.Y. – . He understands why the new guidance was put into place, but is still concerned about his members having to explain it to a patient's family.
"Imagine, you know, my 20-year-old son for whatever reason stops breathing and after working him up for 20 minutes I have to tell him 'sorry, nothing I can do,' and he says 'okay, let's go to the hospital' and I have to tell him 'no, this is it,'" Bazilay said. "That's not going to sit well with some people."
found that even with aid from EMTs and ER doctors, 90 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital still die.