With key statistics for COVID-19 rising by the day, the state’s top health official is warning New Jersey could return to conditions from this past Spring.
“If individuals do not adhere to social distancing, masking guidelines, washing your hands, staying home if you’re sick, this wave has the potential to become a surge,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli at a press briefing on Oct. 8.
Gov. Phil Murphy commented that the numbers are going in a direction where they are moving past monitoring. Those steps to address include increasing testing and sending contact tracers to specific communities.
Breadth of Numbers
“We’re doing a lot to address it. But it’s the breadth of the numbers right now,” said Murphy. ”Yes, there are hotspots in Ocean and Monmouth but it’s broader than we would like and that’s something that we’re going to stay very close to.”
“We need a surge in due diligence to prevent a surge in COVID-19.”
Persichilli said over the past week, New Jersey has seen an increase in cases, an uptick in hospitalizations and a rate of transmission that has stayed above the 1.0 target for several weeks.
“We know that the virus did not take a break,” said Persichilli. “It is presenting itself in younger individuals who are experiencing mild and moderate symptoms. We also know that asymptomatic spread is more prevalent than initially thought.”
The expected seasonal change is playing a part in the increase of cases. The commissioner noted as the cold weather sets in and people move indoors, the threat of spread is even greater.
The past two weeks, state officials have focused their attention on Ocean and Monmouth, but are keeping an eye on college communities as well. The state’s department has set up a hotspot team with an emphasis on Lakewood, and a second one for colleges and universities to work closely with the local health departments.
“Any communal living presents an at-risk situation if masking and social physical distancing is not adhered to,” said Persichilli. “We are working with local health departments and university partners in those counties to expand testing for asymptomatic persons and to ensure contacts are quickly identified and quarantined. To date, cases don’t appear to be associated with on-campus instruction, but rather are associated with informal gatherings and socializing.”
Murphy added that the recent increase was above what state officials had forecasted.
“We’re watching this, there’s no other way to put it…this is more than somewhat within the modeling of what we expected, but we’ve got some flare ups that are on top of it,” said Murphy.
Over the Oct. 10 and 11 weekend, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 213,628 with 1,652 new cases and 10 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,386. The state probable death is 1,788, bringing the overall total to 16,174.
State officials noted 22 deaths occurred in the last 48 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,900, followed by Bergen at 1,809, Hudson with 1,360, Passaic at 1,114, Morris at 688, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 242, Essex has 229, Hudson has 159, Morris at 144, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Oct. 4 was 3.7%. By region, the North has a rate of 2.1%, Central at 2.9% and the South at 2.6%. 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 decreased to 1.17 from 1.18 the day before. 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.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 23,173, followed by Essex at 21,760, Hudson at 21,183, Middlesex at 20,361, Passaic at 19,605, Union at 18,206, Ocean at 15,170, Monmouth at 12,811, Camden at 10,470, Mercer at 8,820, Morris at 8,154, Burlington at 7,545, Somerset at 6,018, Gloucester at 4,972, Atlantic at 4,463, Cumberland at 3,863, Sussex at 1,579, Warren at 1,480, Hunterdon at 1,451, Salem at 1,113 and Cape May at 1,056.
Another 375 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 16 outbreaks involving 58 cases have been reported in nine of the 21 counties in the Garden State. For North Jersey, Bergen County has two confirmed outbreaks with five cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, and Sussex County has one confirmed outbreak with two cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 146 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 5,619 of the cases, broken down between 3,342 residents and 2,277 staff.
Cumulatively, 744 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,297 residents and 13,746 staff, for a total of 39,043 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,176 on Oct. 11. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,797 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.