SECAUCUS — The first of the four field hospitals that will be set up by the Army Corps of Engineers in the state should be up and running by Monday.

The field hospital at the Meadowlands Exposition Center will take patients that do not have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Health officials anticipate the need for the field hospitals as COVID-19 patients with serious complications continue to overwhelm the state's hospitals.

New Jersey on Thursday added more than 180 new COVID-19 deaths to a total of 537. More than 25,000 residents have tested positive in less than a month's time.

Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., toured the 250-bed field hospital on Thursday. The Army Corps worked with the State Police, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Guard and health officials to build the hospital in a little more than a week. Other field hospitals are planned for convention centers in Edison and Atlantic City.

“Of course, this is only the end of the beginning as opposed to the beginning of the end,” Murphy said to a room of workers. “God bless you all and thank you for everything you’ve done to get this going.”

Menendez told the workers that “we’re hopefully going to save lives.”

The first field hospital is in North Jersey, which has been devastated by the virus. Bergen County has had more than 4,000 cases and 120 deaths. Essex County has more than 2,600 cases and 99 deaths. Hudson County has had 2,270 cases and 44 deaths.

The field hospital will serve as a “step-down” facility for patients. Murphy described the hospital as a "very basic setup."

Major Gen. Jeffrey Milhorn, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, called the field hospital a “simple solution to a complex situation.”

New Jersey also is working to expand hospital bed capacity by reopening two hospitals that had been closed in Woodbury and Plainfield.

On Wednesday, the federal government delivered 350 ventilators from its stockpile, adding to the 300 that the feds had delivered on Tuesday and the 200 that the state took several weeks ago. Murphy said Wednesday that the state needs another 1,650 ventilators in order to be prepared for the surge in hospital patients.

Inside the Meadlowlands field hospital

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