New Jersey on Saturday reported 4,679 more coronavirus cases and 34 additional deaths while hospitalizations rose for the 22nd straight day as the second wave of the pandemic continues to barrage the state.
A day after Newark’s mayor announced the state’s largest city will ask residents to stay at home for 10 days beginning the day before Thanksgiving, Gov. Phil Murphy did not announce new restrictions Saturday to combat the second wave.
But Murphy, echoing top federal infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s predictions, warned the next few months will be difficult. The governor said numbers will get “unequivocally worse” as more people head inside because of the colder weather, even though New Jersey has significantly increased testing.
Officials continued to urge residents to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and keep the upcoming string of holiday celebrations small.
“The numbers speak for themselves. Please take this seriously. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid large gatherings,” Murphy said on Twitter.
On a bright note, officials on Friday also announced New Jersey could could get up to 160,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine by Christmas if the company wins emergency use approval from the federal government.
And if Moderna’s vaccine takes a similar path, that could mean a total of 460,000 vaccine doses in the state by early January, while broader rollout to the general population could come by April or May.
New Jersey has now announced 302,039 total positive tests out of more than 5.5 million tests administered since the start of the outbreak in March.
The state of 9 million residents has reported 16,746 coronavirus deaths in that time, including 14,934 confirmed fatalities and 1,812 considered probable.
After Friday marked the first time in four days New Jersey reported fewer than 4,000 new cases, cases shot back up past the benchmark Saturday.
The statewide seven-day average for new positive tests increased to 3,933— up 23% from a week ago and 278% in a month.
The seven-day average of cases is now higher than the pandemic’s first wave, though the comparison is deceiving because the state was conducting less than 12,000 tests a day then and the outbreak was likely undercounted.
The state is averaging about 45,000 tests a day this month, and that number does not include recently deployed rapid tests.
Murphy reminded residents that more than 400 testing sites are available throughout the state.
Still, key numbers health officials use to track the outbreak keep trending in the wrong direction.
There were 2,552 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases in New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Friday night. That’s much lower than the 8,000 who were hospitalized in April but the most since May 28. Hospitalizations have nearly tripled over the last month.
Of the 2,552 patients, 486 were in intensive or critical care and 232 were on ventilators. Despite 305 discharges on Friday, it was the 22nd day of increases.
The positivity rate for tests conducted Tuesday, the most recent day available, was 8.66%. The rate throughout last week had remained above 8% after having been below 4% through the summer.
The latest statewide rate of transmission dropped to 1.38. Any number above 1 means the outbreak is continuing to expand. New Jersey has been above that mark since early September.
Fourteen of 21 counties reported at least 100 new cases on Saturday led by Essex (536), Camden (435) and Bergen (427) counties.
The state did not announce when the 34 newly reported deaths occurred.
The update comes as coronavirus cases, deaths, and hospitalizations surge in the United States, and wait times and long lines at testing sites have increased dramatically.
Murphy has previously said New Jersey’s figures are increasing because people have fatigue over observing virus restrictions like wearing masks and are gathering more indoors as the weather gets colder, especially inside private homes.
To fight the spread, Murphy has ordered indoor bars and restaurants in New Jersey to close at 10 p.m. daily and canceled interstate indoor sports up the high school level. Indoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people, down from 25, and starting Monday, outdoor gatherings will be limited to 150, down from 500.
Murphy has stopped short of ordering another statewide shutdown like he did in the spring but has stressed that all options remain on the table.
COUNTY-BY-COUNTY NUMBERS (sorted by most new)
- Essex County: 32,441 positive tests (536 new), 1,968 confirmed deaths (230 probable)
- Camden County: 16,540 positive tests (435 new), 608 confirmed deaths (56 probable)
- Bergen County: 31,447 positive tests (427 new), 1,855 confirmed deaths (246 probable)
- Passaic County: 26,806 positive tests (404 new), 1,155 confirmed deaths (144 probable)
- Hudson County: 28,764 positive tests (393 new), 1,399 confirmed deaths (158 probable)
- Monmouth County: 18,335 positive tests (332 new), 795 confirmed deaths (92 probable)
- Union County: 25,763 positive tests (288 new), 1,246 confirmed deaths (171 probable)
- Burlington County: 11,699 positive tests (284 new), 490 confirmed deaths (41 probable)
- Middlesex County: 27,671 positive tests (260 new), 1,271 confirmed deaths (203 probable)
- Gloucester County: 7,947 positive tests (235 new), 258 confirmed deaths (7 probable)
- Ocean County: 19,880 positive tests (233 new), 1,029 confirmed deaths (67 probable)
- Morris County: 12,085 positive tests (202 new), 707 confirmed deaths (147 probable)
- Mercer County: 12,257 positive tests (166 new), 615 confirmed deaths (36 probable)
- Atlantic County: 7,162 positive tests (137 new), 265 confirmed deaths (13 probable)
- Somerset County: 8,251 positive tests (99 new), 532 confirmed deaths (75 probable)
- Cumberland County: 4,689 positive tests (54 new), 162 confirmed deaths (8 probable)
- Sussex County: 2,278 positive tests (34 new), 162 confirmed deaths (36 probable)
- Warren County: 2,215 positive tests (34 new), 160 confirmed deaths (13 probable)
- Hunterdon County: 2,186 positive tests (31 new), 76 confirmed deaths (54 probable)
- Cape May County: 1,516 positive tests (22 new), 95 confirmed deaths (10 probable)
- Salem County: 1,457 positive tests (17 new), 86 confirmed deaths (5 probable)
There were 2,505 patients with confirmed (2,272) or suspected (233) COVID-19 cases across the New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Wednesday night. That’s 34 more than the night before.
Of those, 452 in critical or intensive care (four fewer than the night before), including 233 on ventilators (17 more).
There were 333 coronavirus patients admitted and 290 discharged Monday, according to the state’s online dashboard.
New Jersey’s 71 acute-care hospitals are currently two-thirds full, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. Patient ages have tended to be younger, making for shorter hospital stays, and hospitals have become better at treating the virus.
New Jersey’s latest transmission rate of 1.38 is down from the 1.40 reported Friday.
That’s far lower than when the rate was above 5 toward the end of March as the extent of the outbreak was still coming into focus and testing was scarce.
But any number above 1 means each newly-infected person, on average, is spreading the virus to at least one other person. Any number below 1 means the outbreak is decreasing.
A transmission rate of 1.38 means every 100 infected people will spread the virus to 138 others.
Although hundreds of school districts have announced coronavirus cases and dozens of New Jersey schools have temporarily shut down since the start of the school year, state health officials have said 56 schools have had confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks.
The state’s dashboard shows 239 cases in those 56 schools, but those numbers only include confirmed in-school transmissions. Students or staff believed to have been infected outside school, or those cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks are not included.
Murphy has resisted ordering schools to close statewide, saying those numbers are better than expected.
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.6%), followed by those 50-64 (24.6%), 18-29 (18.5%), 65-79 (11.7%), 80 and older (7.0%), 5-17 (5.4%), and 0-4 (1.1%).
On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (47.1%), followed by those 65-79 (32.2%), 50-64 (16%), 30-49 (4.3%), 18-29 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).
At least 7,274 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. That number has also been rising at a steeper rate in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, at least 17,500 more people in New Jersey have died this year than would be expected, state mortality data shows, which suggests the pandemic has claimed even more lives than state totals, according to an ongoing analysis by NJ Advance Media.
As of Saturday morning, there have been more than 57.7 million positive COVID-19 tests across the globe, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.37 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The United States has the most positive tests in the world, with more than 11.9 million, and the most deaths, at more than 254,473.
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