As COVID-19 Infections Pass 100K, Officials Warn Work Needed Before Restrictions Are Lifted

On the day the total cases of COVID-19 positive infections passed 100,000, state officials warned residents stay-at-home restrictions will remain until cases begin to slow more significantly.

The warning came as State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli reported April 24 daily hospitalizations were down 17% from its high on April 14, patients in intensive care units were down 6.6% from its April 13 high, and the 77% of patients on ventilators was down from 99% on April 10. 

But both Persichilli and Gov. Phil Murphy stressed that while those trends show the curve is flattening, officials needed to see more progress and slowing of the coronavirus before a reopening can be considered.

High Numbers

“We’re still reporting significantly high numbers,” stated Persichilli. 

Murphy stressed the indicators need to be on a significant decline before any actions to lessen the stay-at-home restrictions, particularly referencing several counties “slid backwards” with the number of days it takes for cases to double.

“We cannot let that happen,” the governor said. “Stay at home. Stay away from each other. We cannot ease one bit on our social distancing.”

COVID-19 Cases pass 100K

As of April 24, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 102,196 with 3,047 new cases and 253 new deaths, bringing that total to 5,617. 

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most deaths with 932, followed by Bergen with 907, Hudson at 606, Passaic at 350, Morris at 324, Sussex at 82 and Warren with 60.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 53% white, 20% black, 17% hispanic, 6% Asian and 5% another race. Murphy noted deaths in the black community were running about 50% more than their population in the state and recently signed legislation mandating hospitals report age, gender, ethnicity and race of people who have tested COVID-19 positive or died from the virus.

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 60% had cardiovascular disease, 42% diabetes, 31% chronic diseases, 15% neurological conditions, 11% cancer and 13% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen is still the primary hot spot in the state with 14,049 total cases, followed by Hudson at  12,645, Essex at 11,811, Union at 10,395, Passaic at 9,874, Middlesex at 9,530, Ocean at 5,444, Monmouth at 5,238, Morris at 4,680, Mercer at 2,991, Somerset at 2,98, Camden at  2,683, Burlington at 1,969, Gloucester at 899, Sussex at 784, Warren at 719, Atlantic at 544, Hunterdon at 464, Cumberland at 424, Cape May at 236 and Salem at 164. 

Another 1,108 cases and two deaths are under investigation to determine where the person resides.

The amount of days it takes for a county to double its cases in all 21 counties is taking at least a week. Bergen leads North Jersey countries with a rate of 27 days to double, Morris at 23, Essex at 22, Passaic at 17.5, Hudson and Sussex at 16.5 and Warren at 14.

Long-term Care Facilities

The state noted 446 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and the facilities have accounted for 14,579 of the cases and 1,652 of the total deaths confirmed with an additional 1,044 under investigation. 

In a by-county breakdown, Bergen’s 58 facilities had 2,738 residents test positive with 569 total deaths, Essex’s 43 facilities had 1,544 residents test positive with 344 total deaths, Hudson’s 12 facilities had 495 residents test positive with 95 total deaths, Morris’s 35 facilities had 1,043 residents test positive with 208 total deaths, Passaic’s 20 facilities had 698 residents test positive with 133 total deaths, Sussex’s five facilities had 255 residents test positive with 58 total deaths and Warren’s six facilities had 249 residents test positive with 45 total deaths. 

State Testing

The state has processed 185,329 coronavirus tests of symptomatic individuals since the outbreak began, with 44% testing positive for COVID-19. The state estimates between 7,000-9,000 tests are processed a day with test results returning in about a week.

Officials reported 6,847 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus and 778 discharged on April 23. There are currently 98 patients in field hospitals, with 288 discharged overall. Of those hospitalized, 1,933 are in intensive care units and 1,487 are on ventilators. 

Working With Washington

After a couple of days of harsh words for Republicans in Washington, Murphy reported “good conversations” with key figures of the Trump administration.

Murphy in consecutive daily briefings had taken to task Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s for his suggestion states should file for bankruptcy instead of receiving more federal aid and U.S. Treasury guidance the governor said would have made The CARES Act funds allocated to the state “unusable.”

Murphy characterized a phone call with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as “productive.”  At issue is the Treasury Department restrictions prohibiting states from using the funds on the extra expenses they incur due to the coronavirus. New Jersey had plan to use the monies to offset the drop in tax collections that is hindering their ability to fund state operations and pay their employees.

‘Money that’s Rightfully Ours’

“I discussed our need to get the money that’s rightfully ours from the CARES Act,” said Murphy. “Our conversation was a good step in the right direction, but we’re not over the goal line yet.”

Later in the day, the first-term democratic governor said he reiterated to Vice President Mike Pence the need for direct cash to all states hit hard by the coronavirus. He heralded a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez as well the National Governors Association call for $500 billion as the type of relief states need.

“I will be persistent and stay at this because, if we don’t get direct cash assistance, we will have to make awful choices,” said Murphy.

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