New Jersey Officials Concerned About Uptick of New COVID-19 Cases

State officials want New Jerseyans to keep up the practices that contained the spread of the coronavirus after back to back days of over 500 new cases.

“Please do not let your guard down,” Gov. Phil Murphy pleaded with residents of the Garden State at his Sept. 18 press briefing. “We have come an enormous distance in the six months we have been at this. Let’s keep up the diligence, let’s keep up the compliance…It’s simple, basic stuff.”

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli added, “This increase in cases reminds us this virus is unrelenting. It treats everyone the same. We are fighting an invisible enemy, and we must be cognizant of that fact.”

Basic Stuff

According to Murphy, the basic stuff includes social distancing, wearing a face mask and making sure you clean your hands repeatedly.

“The complicated part is the human nature element,” said the Governor. “Can we prove that we can get to a place….and stay there and get even better.”

Murphy noted that nobody should fall into a false sense of security because of reopenings of gyms, indoor dining and schools. 

“We can’t just because we have done [things like gyms and indoor dining] feel like we have gotten through this,” he stated. “We have to stay at it, particularly in this season…where there is worshiping at a higher level than normal. Please do it responsibly.” 

Indoor Gatherings

Murphy and his health officials are worried that as the weather turns colder, people are more likely to gather indoors where the virus spreads more quickly. 

“We continue to see a rise in cases  some linked to celebratory gatherings like birthday parties and some linked to solemn gatherings, like funerals,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.  

Persichilli noted positive tests keep rising among young people, as 33% of new cases on Sept. 17 and 18 come among residents aged 18 to 29.

Shore Issues

A specific area of concern are the shore countries of Ocean and Monmouth, which were the top counties for new cases in the state on consecutive days. Ocean had 112 positive tests on Sept. 17 and 93 on Sept. 18, while Monmouth had 83 and 51 cases on those days.

Health officials stressed that although younger residents are less likely to suffer severe cases and not create a surge of deaths and hospitalizations, they still present a danger to those around them.

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“We have to remind everybody that while it is true younger individuals are less likely to develop complications of severe illness from COVID-19…they pose a risk to other individuals who might have underlying medical conditions, older individuals,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan. “The fact that we are still seeing deaths and hospitalizations is still a cause of concern even if they are lower in number.”  

Daily Data

As of Sept. 18, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 198,848 with 519 new cases and five new deaths, bringing that total to 14,270. The state probable death count increased to 1,791, bringing the overall total to 16,061.

State officials noted seven 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 1,896, followed by Bergen at 1,801, Hudson with 1,353, Passaic at 1,107, Morris at 686, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 243, Essex has 229, Hudson has 160, Morris at 145, Passaic at 143, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Sept. 14 was 2.2%, down from 3.0 the day before%. By region, the north has a rate of 1.7%, central at 2.7% and the south at 2.7%. 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. 

As for the rate of transmission, it remained unchanged at 1.08. Officials have continually cited transmission rate 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 413 patients are hospitalized, with 221 confirmed and 192 awaiting confirmation. Of those hospitalized, 73 are in intensive care units and 36 on ventilators, while 26 patients were discharged.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 22,119, followed by Essex at 20,773, Hudson at 20,454, Middlesex at 19,016, Passaic at 18,774, Union at 17,390, Ocean at 12,095, Monmouth at 11,403, Camden at 9,633, Mercer at 8,544, Morris at 7,706, Burlington at 6,862, Somerset at 5,671, Gloucester at 4,258, Atlantic at 3,944, Cumberland at 3,722, Sussex at 1,431, Warren at 1,428, Hunterdon at 1,277, Salem at 1,037 and Cape May at 997.

Another 314 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

Demographic Breakdown

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 48% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 31% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 152 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 7,209 of the cases, broken down between 4,505 residents and 2,704 staff. 

Cumulatively, 695 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,001 residents and 13,499 staff, for a total of 38,500 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,141 on Sept. 18. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,757 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths. 

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