With an uptick resulting in 2,000 new coronavirus cases in New Jersey in the last four day, Gov. Phil Murphy sounded the alarm that the progress residents have made in fighting COVID-19 could be undone quickly.
“We’re now back to where we were roughly a month ago in the daily number of new cases,” said Murphy at a press briefing July 29. “We cannot go backwards”
The governor firmly placed the blame in the rise of cases to crowded house parties, characterizing them as “not smart or safe.”
“When there are hundreds of people crammed into a house, where the air-conditioning system is simply blowing the air around and people are not wearing masks, you have also invited coronavirus to your party,” he said. “We cannot continue to have crowded house parties. They are not safe.”
Murphy added “We have to shake that bad habit out of our system immediately. Indoor gatherings with close proximity and no face coverings have got to come to an end.”
The first-term Democratic governor said the decision to not allow indoor bars—”a huge source of infection worldwide”—has led to the increase of oversized house and underground parties.
“The rate and the volume of that going underground is just completely unacceptable right now,” said Murphy. “That is something that will not allow us to continue to be out there….we will have no choice but to take (legal) steps.”
Health officials noted contact tracing has linked the the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases to indoor house parties, including 55 from Middletown and 35 from Harvey Cedars as well as a Jackson house party of 700 people where “we don’t even know yet how many new coronavirus cases may ultimately be the outcome of this party,” said Murphy.
“This is no time for anyone to be vying for induction into the Knucklehead Hall of Fame,” commented the governor.
While understanding the need to escape the heat and head into the air conditioning, Murphy noted indoor settings are dangerous places if people are not socially distancing or wearing a mask.
The governor said residents have to continue to use common sense and be personally responsible, by gathering with friends in small groups and outdoors.
“Indoor house parties spread coronavirus more efficiently,” said Murphy. “Do not become the person who unknowingly contracts coronavirus at a party and then spreads it to loved ones who may be more susceptible to this virus.”
As of July 29, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 180,766 with 489 new cases and 18 new deaths, bringing that total to 13,923. The state probable death count remained at 1,875, bringing the overall total to 15,798.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted five deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,857, followed by Bergen at 1,783, Hudson with 1,331, Passaic at 1,090, Morris at 677, Sussex at 158 and Warren with 157.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 255, Essex has 243, Hudson has 169, both Passaic and Morris at 151, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 14.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of July 25 reamined at 2.4%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. By region, the north tested at 1.1%, the central at 2.0% and the south 4.8%.
As for the rate of transmission, it was unchanged at 1.14. Officials have continually cited transmission rate—which measures the rate each new case leads to how many additional cases—and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 761 patients are hospitalized, with 361 confirmed cases and 400 patients under investigation for having coronavirus. The north tier had 332 patients hospitalized, the central 235 and the south 194.
Of those hospitalized, 116 are in intensive care units and 49 on ventilators, while 52 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 20,391, followed by Hudson at 19,430, Essex at 19,428, Middlesex at 17,615, Passaic at 17,370, Union at 16,439, Ocean at 10,330, Monmouth at 9,985, Camden at 8,225, Mercer at 7,984, Morris at 7,102, Burlington at 5,721, Somerset at 5,163, Atlantic at 3,323, Cumberland at 3,178, Gloucester at 3,017, Warren at 1,327, Sussex at 1,290, Hunterdon at 1,125, Salem at 866 and Cape May at 802.
Another 489 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state.
In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.
A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49.
State officials are tracking cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who in turn test positive for COVID-19. No new cases were reported July 29, with the total remaining reduced to 54 cumulative cases for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Two are currently hospitalized. No deaths have been reported from the disease.
Persichilli stated “Black and Hispanic children account for a disproportionately high number” on a national scale. While only a small sample, Persichilli reported the racial breakdown in New Jersey was 40% Hispanic, 34% Black, 12% White, 6% Asian and 4% other.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted currently 310 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 22,135 of the cases, broken down between 14,415 residents and 7,720 staff.
Cumulatively, 604 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 24,699 residents and 12,916 staff, for a total of 37,615 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 6,903 on July 29. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,719 residents deaths and 119 staff deaths.