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New Jersey Officials Present COVID-19 Modeling; Peaks Expected to Hit in the New Year

State officials offered two coronavirus modeling forecasts for New Jersey that in an improbable worst case scenario would result in four metrics higher than those seen last Spring.

Gov. Phil Murphy laid out separate two models—a worst and moderate scenario—from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) as well as the governor’s Office of Innovation at his press briefing Dec. 9. The models used the same data to forecast new cases, hospitalizations, beds in use in intensive care units (ICU) and ventilators in use. 

The governor expresses optimism even in the face of what could only be described as a grim Winter ahead.

Personal Responsibility

“The end of this pandemic is within reach. It’s not going to just come to us—we have to reach out and grab it,” Murphy said. “There’s so much we can do to move these models in the right direction, beyond taking personal responsibility.”

Murphy said the baselines for the moderate models take into consideration the continuation “with our masking and social-distancing, and where more of us use common sense and smart decision-making throughout the holidays to stay among our immediate households and not take part in indoor gatherings.”

In the moderate cases scenario, which officials think is more likely as New Jerseyans have overwhelmingly abided by the executive orders put in place as well following health protocols, the state still predicts a peak of over 9,000 cases.

Moderate Model

The NJDOH model peak for new cases arrives on Jan. 13, 2021 with 9,120. A day later, hospilizations are forecast to hit 6,333, 1,215 of those in ICU and 788 on ventilators. 

The Office of Innovation predicts new cases reaching 7,180 on Dec. 25, with total hospitalizations rising to 5,752 as of Jan. 31, 2021. On that day, there would be 1,080 patients in ICU and 687 of those on a ventilator. 

The worst case scenario assumes residents disregard the current health emergency protocols, which state officials are of the opinion will not be the case. Neither considers the effect of a vaccine due to it not being widely available to make a difference. 

Worst Case Scenario

In this scenario from NJDOH, the peak of new cases would be 12,595 on Jan. 14, 2021. The total hospitalization high water market would be reached a day earlier with 8,747 patients. Of those, 1,679 would be in the ICU and 1,088 on ventilators.

The Office of Innovation has later and lower peaks. A high for new cases would be on Feb. 1, 2021 at 9,932 and total hospitalizations on Feb. 5, 2021 being 8,689. Of those hospitalized, 1,632 would be an ICU patient and 1,037 on ventilators.  

“This path would keep our hospital metrics within the safety zone,” said Murphy. “The numbers would still be very big, but wouldn’t overwhelm our health care system capacity.”

Murphy noted that the state’s hospitals teetered on the abyss of being overwhelmed in the Spring. On April 14, the state hospitals hit their highest peaks with 8,270 hospitalizations, 2,051 in ICU and 1,972 on ventilators. 

“If the numbers threaten our healthcare system, we will have to act,” said Murphy. 

Better Prepared

The governor was confident the state would not reach that critical point again as it has a better understanding of the virus, better therapeutics, has bolstered up its supplies and capabilities to expand. However, he did acknowledge that any actions— including a stay-at-home order—would be on the table if the hospital metrics reach the same levels as the Spring.

But Murphy hit home that it is the actions of Garden State residents that will determine the course of action.

“The more we can change them for the better, the sooner we can crush the curve of the second wave,” stated Murphy.

Daily Data

As of Dec. 9, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 381,486 with 4,665 total new cases reported and 91 new deaths, bringing that total to 15,674. The state listed probable deaths at 1,868, bringing the overall total to 17,542.

For North Jersey counties, Hudson had a total of 410 new cases, Passaic 407 new cases, Essex 366 new cases, Morris 184 new cases, Bergen 376 new cases, Sussex 52 new cases and Warren 43 new cases.

State officials noted 59 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 2,045, followed by Bergen at 1,926, Hudson with 1,458, Passaic at 1,209, Morris at 729, Sussex at 163 and Warren with 161.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 254, Essex has 234, Hudson has 159, Morris at 157, Passaic at 144, Sussex has 39 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Dec. 5 was 13.2%, with the North reporting 14.0%, Central 11.6% and South 11.6% on approximately 38,000 tests. 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 1.10 from 1.08 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 3,533 patients were hospitalized, with 3,262 confirmed cases and 271 under investigation. By region, there were 1,653 in the North, 1,097 in the Central and 783 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 630 are in intensive care units and 412 on ventilators, while 397 patients were discharged and 446 admitted.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 39,350, followed by Bergen at 38,879, Hudson at 35,508, Middlesex at 34,867, Passaic at 33,780, Union at 31,239, Ocean at 24,790, Monmouth at 23,897, Camden at 22,443, Burlington at 15,997, Morris at 15,763, Mercer at 15,440, Gloucester at 10,761, Somerset at 10,219, Atlantic at 9,167, Cumberland at 5,801, Sussex at 3,123, Warren at 2,903, Hunterdon at 2,848, Salem at 1,986 and Cape May at 1,862.

Another 893 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 88 outbreaks involving 388 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with 15 new outbreaks involving 103 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 79 cases, Passaic County has four confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, Warren County has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Sussex County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven cases and Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 380 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 7,757 of the cases, broken down between 3,611 residents and 4,146 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,076 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 27,652 residents and 16,831 staff, for a total of 44,483 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,359 on Dec. 9. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,030 residents deaths and 123 staff deaths.

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