Social Distancing is Working in New Jersey But Murphy Warns Long Road Still Ahead

For the first time since the residents of New Jersey were ordered to stay at home, Gov. Phil Murphy provided evidence the tactics employed by his administration was slowing down the pandemic in the state.

State officials reported the curve in the state is beginning to level out as the projected peak in cases could happen between late April and early May.

“(There’s been) a decline in the growth rate of new cases from 24% day over day on March 30 to roughly 12% day-over-day (April 6),” Murphy said. “This means our efforts to flatten the curve are starting to pay off.”

Prediction Models

Murphy went through different models to show the effects the coronavirus had and could have depending on actions taken by officials and residents of the state.

The projected infection chart revealed by Murphy showed an 86,000 case peak as a best case scenario with social distancing, or a 509,000 case peak as a worst case. The peak period would be between April 19 and May 11.

A peak in hospitalizations is currently modeled to be between April 10-28. The best-case scenario has a peak of 9,000 people hospitalized on April 10; the worst-case scenario, 36,000 would need hospitalization on April 28. 

Moneyball Approach

“We’ve built a strong modeling program that we can use with great and increasing confidence,” stated Murphy. “When we began our preparations for responding to this emergency back in January, we knew that only an objective, fact-based, Moneyball approach would get us through this.”

According to the governor, this approach has shaped the state’s aggressive stance on social distancing.

“While we are not anywhere close to being out of the woods just yet, we are clearly on the right path to get there,” he said. “It will be tough and it will be stressful, but our health system can get through this intact.”

Over 41,000 Cases

As of April 6, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey climbed to 41,090 with 3,663 new cases and 86 new deaths, bringing that total to 1,003. Of the 1,003 deaths, Bergen had the most of any county with 200, while other North Jersey county totals include Essex at 186, Hudson at 92, Morris at 60, Passaic at 53, Sussex at 11 and Warren with seven.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said 84,768 tests have been performed with 36,826 people, or about 44% of thoses tested, having COVID-19 while 47,942 people tested negative for the coronavirus.

Bergen Leads Counties

Bergen is still the primary hot spot in the state with 6,862 total cases, followed by Essex at 4,493, Hudson at 4,395, Passaic at 3,756, Union at 3,685,  Middlesex at 3,263, Monmouth at 2,545, Ocean at 2,374, Morris at 1,956, Somerset at 902, Mercer at 740, Burlington at 646, Camden at 645, Sussex at 292, Gloucester at 279, Warren at 215, Hunterdon at 211, Atlantic at 132, Cape May at 85, Cumberland at 64 and Salem at 29. 

The breakdown does not include 3,821 cases and one death still under investigation to determine where those people reside.

There were 6,390 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state as of April 6; of those hospitalized with the virus, 1,505 patients are in critical care. 

No Spiking of Footballs

“If we relax our social distancing, our health care system will be overrun with a surge four times what it could be. That would be literally disastrous,” said Murphy. “This is no time to spike any footballs or to take our foot off the gas. We still have a week-and-a-half to go, at least, until we hit the peak. This isn’t over—not by a long shot.”

FEMA will keep open two COVID-19 testing sites through May in New Jersey, located at Bergen Community College in Paramus and the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel that were slated to be closed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  

Rep. Bill Pascrell said the efforts of the workers on the frontline workers will only succeed by not just maintaining but expanding our testing capacity.

“The feds are right to reverse their ill-conceived plan to pull up stakes at test sites as our state maintains the second-worst infection rate in the nation and endures perhaps the worst crisis in our state’s history,” said Pascrell.

State Retirees Welcomed

While state officials agree more testing is needed, so is manpower. Murphy signed an executive order allowing retirees to return to state and local government employment without impacting their retirement pensions and removing restrictions on law enforcement’s ability to temporarily supplement their ranks. 

“Right now, we need all the experienced help we can get, whether it be retired law enforcement officers returning to duty, or nurses who can return to University Hospital,” said Murphy. “(The) order will remove roadblocks preventing retired public employees from joining our fight against COVID-19—in any capacity they can—without impacting their pension status.”

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