blood filtering equipment

Two COVID-19 Plasma Collection Sites Opening in North Jersey May 11

The American Red Cross will open two COVID-19 convalescent plasma collection sites in North Jersey.

“By opening two convalescent plasma collections sites in North Jersey, where there is a concentration of the state’s highest infection rates and deaths, the American Red Cross can identify more donors and better serve patients in need of this therapy,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. 

Convalescent plasma collection will begin at the American Red Cross blood center in Fairfield and University Hospital in Newark. 

FDA Approval

In March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an initiative to collect plasma from those who have recovered from novel coronavirus to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections. This therapy uses the blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat new patients who are severely ill with the virus. 

“In our battle against COVID-19, we are excited to be trialing this potential life-saving therapy.” said Shereef Elnahal, President and CEO of University Hospital. “The number of folks who are willing to donate their plasma to save the lives of their fellow citizens is a testament to the residents of our state.” 

Encouraging Results

University Hospital is one of the first hospitals in the state to receive the FDA approval for this treatment. Approximately 100 COVID-19 patients at the hospital have been treated with convalescent plasma. While Elnahal cautioned the effectiveness of this treatment is not yet known, he noted many patients that have received this therapy have recovered. 

Other New Jersey hospitals are participating in the FDA’s program to access convalescent plasma for their patients by accessing one of the three pathways which they can acquire plasma. 

Death Toll Passes 9K

As of May 9, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 137,085 with 1,759 new cases and 166 new deaths, bringing that total to 9,116. 

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most in the state with 1,414, followed by Bergen with 1,348, Hudson at 954, Passaic at 734, Morris at 511, Sussex at 127 and Warren with 103.

State Testing

The state has processed 273,375 coronavirus tests of mostly symptomatic individuals since the outbreak began, with 39% testing positive for COVID-19. Murphy noted that the percentage was the lowest since the state began tracking. The state estimates between 9,000-11,000 tests are processed a day with results returning in about a week.

Murphy showcased a new chart revealing the daily rate of infections from those tested has been in steady decline and currently rests at 27%.

Officials reported 4,628 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus—which included 364 new hospitalizations—while 422 patients were discharged. The north tier had 2,367 patients hospitalized, the central 1,431 and the south 830, all down from the day before.

Officials broke down by tier the daily discharge and new hospitalizations. For May 9, the north reported 170 new hospitalizations and 207 discharges, the central 55 hospitalizations and 113 hospitalizations, and the south 139 hospitalizations and 102 discharges.   

Of those hospitalized, 1,416 are in intensive care units and 1,054 on ventilators. There are currently 35 patients in field hospitals, with 421 treated overall. 

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen still has the most cumulative cases in the state with 16,804, followed by Hudson at 16,675, Essex at 15,365, Passaic at 14,428, Union at 13,984, Middlesex at 13,759, Ocean at 7,366, Monmouth at 6,815, Morris at 5,833, Mercer at 5,233, Camden at 4,758, Somerset at 3,996, Burlington at 3,531, Gloucester at 1,631, Atlantic at 1,494, Cumberland at 1,245, Warren at 1,040, Sussex at 1,023,  Hunterdon at 706, Cape May at 442 and Salem at 400.

Another 557 cases are still 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 continue to trend up, although cases in the South are doubling at a faster pace than the rest of the state, according to Murphy. In North Jersey, it has taken more than 30 days to double in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Esex, Sussex, Passaic, Warren and Morris counties.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 53% White, 19% Black, 18% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 5% another race. For 40,309 hospitalizations that were tracked, the breakdown was 36% White, 20% Black, 18% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 11% another race. 

Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state and vowed that any plan to reopen the state will work to reduce racial inequities in healthcare. The governor 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, 59% had cardiovascular disease, 43% diabetes, 32% other chronic diseases, 17% neurological conditions, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other.

A census of ages for 7,223 confirmed deaths shows 43% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 35% in the range of 65-80, 15% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 515 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 26,031 of the cases and 4,825 of the total deaths. 

In a by-county breakdown, Bergen’s 63 facilities had 4,055 residents test positive with 792 total deaths, Essex’s 46 facilities had 2,475 residents test positive with 516 total deaths, Morris’s 41 facilities had 1,625 residents test positive with 389 total deaths, Passaic’s 25 facilities had 1,409 residents test positive with 286 total deaths, Hudson’s 15 facilities had 1,089 residents test positive with 178 total deaths, Warren’s seven facilities had 477 residents test positive with 88 total deaths and Sussex’s five facilities had 335 residents test positive with 97 total deaths. 

Home Saliva Test

With test expansion a major component to the New Jersey’s Road Back plan, the state’s university received federal approval for home testing.

Rutgers’ RUCDR Infinite Biologics received an amended emergency use authorization from the FDA May 7 for the first coronavirus test allowing people to collect their own saliva at home and send it to a lab for results. 

The decision follows the FDA’s recent emergency approval to RUCDR Infinite Biologics for the first saliva-based test, which involves healthcare workers collecting saliva from individuals at testing sites.

Broader Screening

“The impact of this approval means that not only do we no longer have to put healthcare professionals at risk for infection by performing collections, we can now preserve precious (personal protection equipment) for use in patient care instead of testing and can significantly increase the number of people collected each and every day in places other than a healthcare setting,” said Andrew Brooks, chief operating officer and director of technology development at RUCDR.

The new at-home saliva self-collection assay, developed by RUCDR in partnership with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs, allows for broader screening than through the standard method using nose and throat swabs at a healthcare facility or testing location that requires a physical interaction with a healthcare professional.

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