The top New Jersey health official stated the northern part of the state has passed its peak when it comes to COVID-19 crisis.
“The north has seen its peak (in hospitalizations) and it’s now coming to the central and south” tiers of the state, said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
Persichilli stated on April 17 there has been flatting statewide, as she highlighted the percentage of patients on ventilators is currently at 81%, down from the previous high of 97% in the past week. The daily growth in hospitalizations decreased 2%, down from an increase of 3-4% in recent days.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” said Persichilli, who projected the peak date for the state to be May 12.
Gov. Phil Murphy earlier noted that all but one county in the state was seeing the doubling rate taking longer, taking at least a week.
“We’re flattening the curve, there’s no doubt about it,” said Murphy.
But the governor made sure to temper any thoughts that opening the state is just around the corner, using an analogy that it will not be a flick of a switch but a slow rise of a light dimmer to reopen the state.
“We need to have confidence that we’ve broken the back of this virus, that we have a healthcare structure in place,” he said. “The last thing we can do is relax and get complacent.”
Over 75K Infected
As of April 17, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey climbed to 75,317 with 4,391 new cases and 362 new deaths, bringing that total to 3,518.
Of the total deaths, Bergen had the most of any county with 714, while other North Jersey county totals include Essex at 684, Hudson at 420, Morris at 232, Passaic at 221, Sussex at 54 and Warren with 36.
The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 50% white, 22% black, 17% hispanic, 5% Asian and 5% another race. State officials noted deaths in the black community were running about 50% more than their population in the state.
In regards to underlying disease of those who have passed, 61% had cardiovascular disease, 39% diabetes, 30% chronic diseases, 21% chronic lung diseases, 15% neurological conditions, 11% cancer and 11% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the cumulative percentages past 100%.
Bergen Hot Spot
Bergen is still the primary hot spot in the state with 11,863 total cases, followed by Essex at 9,672, Hudson at 9,636, Union at 8,429, Passaic at 7,604, Middlesex at 7,308, Ocean at 4,424, Monmouth at 4,414, Morris at 3,822, Somerset at 2,195, Mercer at 2,123, Camden at 1,807, Burlington at 1,366, Gloucester at 664, Sussex at 591, Warren at 521, Hunterdon at 385, Atlantic at 370, Cumberland at 263, Cape May at 189 and Salem at 102.
There are another 719 cases and three deaths under investigation to determine where the people reside.
The state has processed 143,450 coronavirus tests of symptomatic individuals since the outbreak began, with a 45% testing positive for COVID-19. The state estimates between 7,000-9,000 tests a day are being processed with a backlog of results down to about a week, according to Murphy.
Officials reported 8,011 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus and 787 discharged on April 16. Of those hospitalized, 1,961 are in intensive care units and 1,594 are on ventilators.
Persichilli noted 384 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and a total 9,094 individuals in these facilities are reported to have COVID-19. In a county breakdown, Bergen’s 51 facilities had 1,831 residents test positive with 352 total deaths, Essex’s 38 facilities had 969 residents test positive with 204 total deaths, Hudson’s 12 facilities had 361 residents test positive with 57 total deaths, Morris’s 32 facilities had 829 residents test positive with 150 total deaths, Passaic’s 18 facilities had 460 residents test positive with 77 total deaths, Sussex’s five facilities had 161 residents test positive with 25 total deaths, and Warren’s six facilities had 169 residents test positive with 23 total deaths.
Murphy said that when a post mortem is done, one area he will make sure is focused on is long-term care facilities such as Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II and New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus and their operators.
“You’ve got a vulnerable population, a deadly virus and if that weren’t enough you have some folks who are not doing what they should be doing or need to be doing,” he said. “This Andover thing is a complete outrage. Folks out there who are upset about this, we don’t blame you.”
Murphy added it was not the workers in the facility who should be blamed, instead taking aim at the operators by stating “there is a code of conduct that is expected from these operators.”
Switching gears, the governor offered some more insight into the decision on making a final determination of school closings for the year.
Murphy said he hears from families of high school senior students and those looking to play Spring sports, acknowledging those are the ones most clearly impacted as they want to celebrate their final year.
Murphy said the May 15 date was purposely picked as it gives the administration a month’s more worth of data to make a final decision on if students will be allowed back to schools.
“If we keep on doing what we are doing, we will know a whole lot more than we know now and it has the potential to be a whole more positive,” said Murphy. “My gut tells me the news gets better over that four week period we are talking about.”