New Jersey now has 4,402 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the second highest total of any state in the nation, behind New York.

With that number expected to increase dramatically over the next few weeks, efforts are moving forward to quickly expand New Jersey’s hospital capacity.

During his daily coronavirus update Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Phil Murphy said the Army Corps of Engineers is working with FEMA on plans to build four temporary field hospitals, one in North Jersey, two in the central region of the state and one in South Jersey.

The first site will be in the Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, close to the hardest hit counties of Bergen and Hudson.

Two field hospitals will be constructed in the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison and one will be in the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Lt. Colonel David Park, commander of the Philadelphia District of the Army Corp of Engineers, said activating the first field hospital in North Jersey should be completed after little more than a week.

He said the field hospitals in Edison and Atlantic City would be completed in the coming weeks.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said New York officials expect their COVID-19 patient peak in the next 14 to 21 days, and a similar peak is expected in North Jersey.

She said the Health Department is working with trauma center CEOs in North, Central and South Jersey on a patient dispersal plan.

The field hospitals will take patients that do not need critical care.

“We want to keep the intensivists, the respiratory therapists, the critical care nurses all on one campus," Persichilli said.

Murphy said the four field hospitals will be able to accommodate an estimated 1,300 beds if they’re needed.

He stressed taking these steps will allow us to expand hospital capacity rapidly in the short term “and insure both a proper continuum of care for those residents who will need it, and greater flexibility for our healthcare system to respond to this emergency.”

“We will ensure that we are prepared, we will not be left scrambling, we will be ready to act decisively to protect the health of our residents.”

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