On the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy hitting the shores of New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy declared the next wave of the coronavirus had arrived.
“The second wave of coronavirus is no longer something off in the future,” said Murphy at a press briefing Oct. 29. “It’s coming in now.”
“We have been seeing the numbers of new cases grow exponentially across the past several weeks. And, along with that, the numbers of patients being treated in our hospitals has similarly been on the rise,” he stated.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted the seven day average for hospitalization was 420 a week ago. Comparatively, the state total on Oct. 29 was above 800 for the ninth consecutive day, with the last two days above 1,000.
The governor said while it’s understandable that New Jerseyans are suffering from pandemic fatigue after eight months, now was the time to double-down on the practices that flatten the curve last Spring, such as social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask.
“COVID-19 has been waiting for us to get lax in our personal responsibilities so it can come roaring back,” said Murphy. “Do not let your guard down and stay vigilant.”
The first-term Democratic governor said New Jersey will be in a better position to handle this wave as its stockpile of testing, personal protection equipment (PPE) and the staffing up of contact tracers will be ready. Since March the state has distributed 82 million pieces of PPE.
Murphy offered an update of the state’s stockpile as compared to its goal it’s set up for earlier this year.
Of the 5.9 million N95 masks the state budgeted for, it has 5.7 million in hand with another 1.6 million expected to arrive within 30 days. For surgical masks, the state is a million short of its 14.2 million goal.
The state has 1.3 million of the 2.15 million aim for face shields, with another 665,000 are expected to arrive in the next 30 days. In regards to hospital gowns, 3.7 million of the 4.5 million target has been reached; 1.5 million are awaiting to be delivered.
The biggest issue appears to be gloves, as of the government’s 117 million goal, the state has only 3.9 million on hand. Officials expect another 100 million are expected to arrive in the next 30 days.
State is Prepared
The state stockpile currently has 2,050 ventilators, with 597 deployed across New Jersey. The state is currently recording 33,000 tests per day and will receive an additional 2.6 million Abbott Labs BonaxNOW antigen rapid test in the coming weeks.
In regards to contact tracing, the state has 350 contact tracers undergoing advanced training and coaching, an additional class of contact tracers to begin training Nov. 2 and 100 new contact tracers will be deployed by Nov. 4. As a result, within two weeks, New Jersey will have a total of 2,100 contact tracers to depose throughout the state.
“We pledged we would not be caught unprepared when the second wave arrived. It’s here, and we’re ready,” said Murphy.
As of Oct. 29, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 234,547 with 1,477 new cases reported and eight new deaths, bringing that total to 14,539. The state listed probable deaths at 1,793, bringing the overall total to 16,332.
For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 241 new cases, Hudson 162 new cases, Bergen 141 new cases, Passaic 111 new cases, Morris 56 new cases, Sussex 11 new cases and Warren 10 new cases.
State officials noted 16 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 1,912, followed by Bergen at 1,819, Hudson with 1,372, Passaic at 1,120, Morris at 693, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 243, Essex has 230, Hudson has 157, Morris at 145, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Oct. 22 was 6.5%. By region, the North has a rate of 6.8%, Central at 6.9% and the South at 5.7%. 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 from the day before at 1.25. 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 1,072 patients are hospitalized, with 846 confirmed cases and 226 patients under investigation. By region, there were 581 in the North, 226 in the Central and 265 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 217 are in intensive care units and 79 on ventilators, while 117 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 25,027, followed by Essex at 24,709, Hudson at 23,132, Middlesex at 22,274, Passaic at 20,898, Union at 20,195, Ocean at 16,715, Monmouth at 14,111, Camden at 11,617, Mercer at 9,297, Morris at 9,145, Burlington at 8,486, Somerset at 6,485, Gloucester at 5,559, Atlantic at 5,162, Cumberland at 4,016, Sussex at 1,720, Warren at 1,595, Hunterdon at 1,586, Salem at 1,171 and Cape May at 1,123.
Another 524 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 28 outbreaks involving 122 cases have been reported in 15 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, up from 25 outbreaks involving 111 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 172 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,647 of the cases, broken down between 2,615 residents and 2,032 staff.
Cumulatively, 807 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,605 residents and 14,088 staff, for a total of 39,693 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,221 on Oct. 29. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,845 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.