The New Jersey Health Department updated an executive directive approving the use of antigen testing, which would allow for indoor visitation at long-term care (LTC) facilities in every phase.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted the new directive struck a balance between the human need for visitation and the public health need for safety.
“We know COVID-19 remains in communities, and we have to maintain our vigilance to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place for these vulnerable residents,” Persichilli said.
The directive will allow for the use of antigen testing in addition to nucleic acid testing as authorized assays for viral testing for COVID-19.
The viral testing would be considered screening when conducted among asymptomatic individuals with no known exposure to the virus.
Additionally, the directive amended testing schedules, saying testing was not recommended for those who remain asymptomatic after recovery within three months of the onset of symptoms.
Indoor visitation would be allowed by appointment during all phases, provided there was no new onset COVID-19 cases during the prior 14 days, in addition to other criteria.
Previously, facilities could only allow non-compassionate care indoor visitations under stricter criteria. Facilities utilizing antigen testing would be allowed to use it for their caregiver and visitor screening process.
As of Oct. 25, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 228,4468 with 3,134 new cases reported over the weekend (1,994 Oct. 24 and 1,140 Oct. 25) and 12 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,496. The state probable death is 1,789, bringing the overall total to 16,285.
For North Jersey counties om Oct. 25, Essex had a total of 155 new cases, Hudson 138 new cases, Bergen 113 new cases, Morris 78 new cases, Passaic 78 new cases, Sussex 14 new cases and Warren 12 new cases.
State officials noted 13 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 1,910, followed by Bergen at 1,815, Hudson with 1,370, Passaic at 1,120, Morris at 690, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 242, Essex has 230, 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. 18 was 5.3%. By region, the North has a rate of 6.2%, Central at 5.1% and the South at 3.7%. 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 increased to 1.19 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.
Officials reported 868 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 436 in the North, 233 in the Central and 199 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 164 are in intensive care units and 72 on ventilators, while 98 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 24,527, followed by Essex at 23,771, Hudson at 22,573, Middlesex at 21,668, Passaic at 20,444, Union at 19,559, Ocean at 16,447, Monmouth at 13,747, Camden at 11,280, Mercer at 9,146, Morris at 8,859, Burlington at 8,201, Somerset at 6,329, Gloucester at 5,403, Atlantic at 4,997, Cumberland at 3,965, Sussex at 1,677, Warren at 1,554, Hunterdon at 1,533, Salem at 1,160 and Cape May at 1,094.
Another 504 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 25 outbreaks involving 111 cases have been reported in nine of the 21 counties in the Garden State, up from 22 outbreaks involving 83 cases a week previous. For North Jersey, Bergen County has three confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, Hudson County has one confirmed outbreak with four cases, and Sussex County has one confirmed outbreak with two cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 164 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,695 of the cases, broken down between 2,674 residents and 2,021 staff.
Cumulatively, 789 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,506 residents and 13,968 staff, for a total of 39,474 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,203 on Oct. 23. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,827 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.