As the number of deaths and new coronavirus cases continued to climb on the last day of 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy believes that “2021 will bring better days.”
The governor commented in the 10 months since the first case was reported in New Jersey March 4, the virus has “cut a deep scar across countless families, entire communities, and indeed our entire state.”
“The scale of infection and death in 2020 that it would bring is not anything any of us could have imagined at this time a year ago,” said Murphy at a press briefing Dec. 30. “Slowly but surely, particularly with a robust federal partnership going over the next number of months, we’re going to get this resolved. We’re going to do that together.”
“But look at the numbers, all of them,” he continued. “We can’t consider ourselves done with this virus, because this virus unfortunately is not done with us. Let’s keep fighting. And if we all do our jobs, we will make 2021 so much better than our 2020.”
The first-term Democratic governor thanked the residents who have embraced new practices since March as well as battling pandemic fatigue in attempts to save the lives of loved ones.
“We know that 2021 will bring better days, but we’re going to have to greet the new year on the same war footing with which we’re ending 2020,” said Murphy. “I wish there was magic on (Jan. 1). The year 2021 unquestionably will be better but it will not be on day one or even in the first days, weeks or months.”
Arrival of a Vaccine
Murphy highlighted that the new year brings with it hope and optimism as the state’s COVID-19 vaccine program will continue to expand with expectations of it being available to all New Jerseyans by April or May.
But the governor stressed that “the basics still apply” in attempt to ward off the spread of the virus, including the wearing of face coverings, social distancing and repeated hand washing with soap and water, knowing the virus is more lethal indoors than outdoors and staying home and getting tested if not feeling well.
“(As) we turn the page, it is not a light switch,” said Murphy. “That war footing that I referred to earlier will still be on on Friday just as we’re on today. Let’s keep pounding away early 2021 and before you know it, we’ll be in a dramatically different and better place.”
As of Dec. 31, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 477,360 with 5,107 total new cases reported and 90 new deaths, bringing that total to 17,021. The state listed probable deaths at 2,021, bringing the overall total to 19,042.
For North Jersey counties, Hudson had a total of 677 new cases, Bergen 535 new cases, Essex 430 new cases, Passaic 276 new cases, Morris 148 new cases, Sussex 51 new cases and Warren 46 new cases.
State officials noted 62 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 2,141, followed by Bergen at 2,055, Hudson with 1,531, Passaic at 1,301, Morris at 780, Sussex at 172 and Warren County at 170.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 263, Essex has 250, Hudson has 168, Morris at 178, Passaic at 157, Sussex has 43 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Dec. 26 was 15.2%; by region, the rate was 9.8% in the North, 11.8% in the Central region and 12.6% in the South. 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 declined to 0.94 from 0.95 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 3,716 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,635 in the North, 1,221 in the Central and 860 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 693 are in intensive care units and 462 on ventilators. While 493 patients were discharged, 482 were admitted.
Essex Tops County Count
Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 47,192, followed by Bergen at 47,009, Middlesex at 44,793, Hudson at 43,936, Passaic at 39,876, Union at 36,502, Ocean at 32,427, Monmouth at 31,834, Camden at 28,628, Burlington at 21,170, Morris at 20,106, Mercer at 18,750, Gloucester at 14,116, Somerset at 12,600, Atlantic at 12,183, Cumberland at 7,843, Sussex at 4,435, Warren at 3,922, Hunterdon at 3,746, Salem at 2,757, and Cape May at 2,388.
Another 1,057 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 105 outbreaks involving 546 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with three new outbreaks involving 87 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 21 confirmed outbreaks with 99 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Warren and Sussex counties both having four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 83 cases. Morris is the only county in the state without an outbreak.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 427 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 11,852 of the cases, broken down between 5,681 residents and 6,171 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,159 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 29,837 residents and 19,022 staff, for a total of 48,859 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,521 on Dec. 31. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,307 residents deaths and 125 staff deaths.