On the day that the state passed 200,000 coronavirus cases, health officials in New Jersey do not believe the recent increase in COVID-19 cases is an indication that a second wave has begun in the state.
“I do not yet see a second wave,” said New Jersey Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Edward Lifshitz, who cited an increase in such data such as new hospitalizations, new cases, visits to emergency rooms increasing and daily positivity rate would indicate a second COVID-19 wave has started in New Jersey.
“I am always paying attention to an undertow that a wave is coming and any increase in numbers catches our attention…but right now I would not save its a wave,” said Lifshitz at a press briefing Sept. 21.
Gov. Phil Murphy believes that the increase is a result of the state now being able to provide tests in bigger numbers than before and isolated outbreaks in shore counties.
“Some of that is due to big testing capacity,” stated Murphy. “Some of this is also community spread. We’re challenged right now in Monmouth and Ocean counties. We must remain vigilant.”
While officials cited no specific cause other than large gatherings, they did rule out the increase being tied to the opening of indoor dining, gyms and schools.
Finding where an outbreak of a case started is the job of contact tracers, with New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli asking the public to cooperate when they receive a call.
“Without contacting tracing, we will not be able to answer the question (of an outbreak),” said Persichilli. “Answer the call…so that we can share information with the public to a greater degree of certainty of a type of transmission we are seeing.”
Even as cases increase, Murphy believes that the state has taken the right steps in slowly reopening New Jersey.
“We have to be able to live our lives,” said Murphy. “We have to get back into school, we wanted to get back into dining, gyms…I assume the worst and hope for the best. Be smart. Assume that it is around us and behave as though it is. And balance that with living our lives.”
As of Sept. 21, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 200,154 with 396 new cases and five new deaths, bringing that total to 14,278. The state probable death count increased to 1,791, bringing the overall total to 16,069.
State officials noted six 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 1,108, 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.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Sept. 17 was 1.8%. By region, the north has a rate of 1.3%, central at 2.2% and the south at 2.5%. 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 1.12. 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 349 patients are hospitalized, with 185 confirmed and 164 awaiting confirmation. Of those hospitalized, 87 are in intensive care units and 32 on ventilators, while 34 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 22,197, followed by Essex at 20,854, Hudson at 20,506, Middlesex at 19,116, Passaic at 18,832, Union at 17,466, Ocean at 12,317, Monmouth at 11,544, Camden at 9,729, Mercer at 8,576, Morris at 7,763, Burlington at 6,946, Somerset at 5,703, Gloucester at 4,330, Atlantic at 3,971, Cumberland at 3,744, Sussex at 1,453, Warren at 1,433, Hunterdon at 1,288, Salem at 1,047 and Cape May at 999.
Another 340 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.