11:28 AM

Latest Covid Surge Means Doubling Down on Jersey Strong



New Jerseyans need to be smart, stand strong and stand together.

Allen J. Karp, Executive Vice President, Healthcare & Transformation Management

By Allen Karp, Executive Vice President for Healthcare and Transformation Management

“Jersey Strong.”

I am reminded of those words – used to describe the resilient spirit of New Jerseyans in the wake of the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy – as we watch the troubling rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the state and as Governor Murphy reinstates restrictions on dining, entertainment and sporting events.

“Jersey Strong” speaks to the need for all of us to hang tough and hang together as we enter what we all hope are the final critical months before a COVID vaccine is approved and distributed.

Perhaps no one embodies the spirit of “Jersey Strong” so well as the thousands of doctors, nurses, therapists, aides and other health care professionals who have served so selflessly during the crisis. We recognize and honor their contributions and sacrifice, taken at enormous personal risk and in the face of overwhelming pain and suffering. Their work has been truly heroic.

Understandably, we have grown somewhat weary of restrictions and prevention protocols, and we bristle at the prospect of celebrating the holiday season distanced from friends and family. But now, more than ever, we need to stay the course and double down on the preventative measures that we know will keep us and our loved ones safe from the resurgent virus.

Nothing matters more than your health and well-being, and it is our top priority at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. That’s never been more true than during the COVID crisis. Over the past nine months, we’ve taken extraordinary steps to help New Jerseyans cope with the virus – from expanding telemedicine benefits to adding more options for no-cost mental and emotional health support to helping employers preserve health coverage for their employees.

What’s needed now, however, couldn’t be more basic: to follow the science and stick with the proven protocols that will keep us safe from the COVID virus – and to do so despite the fatigue, the inconvenience and the emotional toll. That means:

  • Wearing a mask. We now have clinical data that underscores the importance of mask-wearing. Research suggests that if 80 percent of people wore masks, the level of infections would be one-twelfth the level if no one wore masks.
  • Practicing social distancing. Official guidelines call for staying six feet apart, but research suggests it’s prudent to extend that distance even farther, if possible. Avoid group gatherings or places that are crowded.
  • Washing your hands…often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face until you can wash up. Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home or workplace at least once a day.

These measures will be especially important in the coming months, as cold weather keeps us indoors and as flu season adds to our health concerns. They are the best way I know to honor our heroic health care workers who have repeatedly put their lives on the line in this pandemic. If you need a reason to wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands, do it for them.

Your efforts have never been more necessary. The number of COVID cases across the state is now approaching 300,000, and the number of COVID deaths could soon hit 15,000. That’s the simple reality, and, as we learned during Superstorm Sandy, it’s never a good idea to bet against Mother Nature.

But I also wouldn’t bet against New Jersey or the formidable spirit and determination of our citizens. We showed true strength and resilience in the face of the second largest Atlantic hurricane on record. And I know we’ll show the same heart as we make our stand against this latest COVID surge. “Jersey Strong” is very much alive and well in our state.