Plus, New Jersey is seeing more cases of pediatric multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome, and parents are asked to observe the symptoms.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 26, 2020
Another 703 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 155,764 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Tuesday.
Sadly, 54 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 11,191 lives lost during the pandemic.
The governor cautioned that the data reported may be lower than actual counts, suppressed by a lag over the weekend.
“We think these numbers are distorted by the holiday weekend, both in terms of testing as well as, sadly, the fatalities that we report,” Murphy said. “But even with that being said, the trends continue very meaningfully in the right direction.”
Throughout New Jersey, 2,723 people are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19, or while awaiting confirmation of their symptoms. Of those 2,723 patients, 786 are in intensive or critical care; 578 of ICU and critical-care patients (74 percent) are on ventilators.
“We are way down from our peak, and key indicators keep falling,” the governor said.
In the past 24 hours, 71 New Jersey hospitals admitted 134 new COVID-19 patients and discharged 131 others, either to a lower-acuity care setting or to their homes.
Across New Jersey, 536 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and account for 30,714 infected people statewide—patients and staff—or 19 percent of total cases.
That includes 20,927 residents and 9,787 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 4,768 lab-confirmed resident deaths (43 percent of the statewide total).
Of 654 veterans residing in a state-run home, 384 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 144 have died from complications related to the virus.
Ten veterans home residents are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 109 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 211 of 1,240 patients and 471 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Seven staffers and 13 patients have died from complications related to the virus.
Forty-five patients are presently receiving care at one of the state’s field medical stations, which have served 465 people in total.
Twenty-three New Jersey children now have been diagnosed with multisystem pediatric inflammatory syndrome, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
The novel illness shares common features with Kawasaki Syndrome and toxic shock syndrome, “but they are not the same,” she said. Most of those pediatric patients have tested positive for COVID-19; all were hospitalized, and 15 have been discharged.
Some children with the syndrome may require extensive hospital care, Persichilli said. She pointed parents to a state health department fact sheet for symptoms of the illness, which are “believed to be caused by a reaction to the coronavirus.”
COVID-19 cases are doubling at least every 30 days throughout all of New Jersey save Salem County, which stands at a 23-day doubling rate. The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 5 percent May 21.
Outdoor graduations, professional sports teams cleared
Starting July 6, New Jersey educational institutions will be allowed to host in-person, outdoor graduation ceremonies, provided that organizers comply with social distancing guidelines, Murphy announced Tuesday.
Specific guidance from the state Department of Education will be issued Wednesday, the governor said, noting that larger classes may need multiple ceremonies staggered across different times or different days.
Graduations must comply with these among other stipulations:
- Must take place on or after July 6, 2020;
- Must take place outdoors or be drive-in/drive-through (no indoor ceremonies will be allowed);
- Must adhere to the relevant capacity limitation in place at the time of the ceremony (this may require districts to hold multiple ceremonies held over a period of time to ensure capacity restrictions are not exceeded);
- Districts and institutions must determine the minimum number of staff and faculty necessary to facilitate commencement ceremonies and adjust attendance requirements accordingly;
- Caps, gowns, diplomas, and other materials must be mailed to individual student homes, sent electronically where possible, or otherwise distributed in a manner that complies with social distancing guidelines;
- All activities must be coordinated in consultation with municipal officials, such as the local Office of Emergency Management, local law enforcement, first responders, and local health officials.
The guidance notes that “commencements must be held only for graduation from middle school or high school, and not for other ceremonies that mark promotion from one grade to the next.” Before July 6, only virtual or drive-through/drive-in ceremonies may be held.
“Our goal is to ensure that our students are given the send-offs they richly deserve, and which they have been working toward,” he said.
Noting there’s “no magic” to the date of July 6, but “there was magic” with the month of July itself, Murphy said improving trend lines in COVID-19 data encouraged organizers that outdoor ceremonies can be safely executed.
“We feel strongly if we keep making the right progress, we’ll be in a different place” later in the summer, the governor said.
Murphy also noted that New Jersey’s professional sports teams—which include the NHL’s Devils, the NFL’s Jets and Giants, the New York Red Bulls, which play in Harrison, and the Philadelphia 76ers, which practice in Camden City—may return to training camps or competition “if their leagues move in that direction.”
The governor said officials have been in talks with the pro leagues throughout the pandemic, and have confidence in “the paid, full-time nature of professional sports,” which includes healthcare workers and facilities staff, to be able to safely resume play.
Anticipating the questions in when youth sports can return to action, Murphy cited the “more casual” atmosphere of those leagues as a hold-up, adding, “but I hope we can get there sooner than later.”
Over the holiday weekend, the governor noted that a mixed weather forecast likely helped suppress vacationers from swarming public places. He said that county and state parks in western Jersey filled up because the weather was better there, but that more people ought to be wearing face coverings in public.
“We’re still working 24-7 to save lives,” Murphy said, adding that the state’s improving COVID-19 trends don’t mean the virus has been eliminated.
“We get new hospitalizations every day,” he said.
Finally the governor re-emphasized his call for “a full, comprehensive, head-to-toe postmortem” of the national handling of the pandemic once it subsides, adding, “I guarantee we’re going to do it as a state.”
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.