Plus: the state health department issues guidance for Father’s Day weekend visits at long-term care facilities.
By Matt Skoufalos | June 19, 2020
Another 516 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 168,496 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Friday.
Sadly, 37 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 12,835 lives lost during the pandemic.
In all, the state has seen just 50 COVID-19-related deaths of people younger than 30, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. Nearly 80 percent of fatalities are among those 65 and older.
However, next week, the governor advised that the state’s death toll will increase “significantly,” as New Jersey will report, alongside its lab-confirmed deaths, those that can “with a high degree of certainty be attributed to complications from COVID-19,” based on analysis from the state Department of Health.
“As our fellow states have grappled with ensuring a complete picture of the toll of COVID-19, so has New Jersey,” Murphy said. “We do this with no sense of pride, but with a sense of duty and closure.”
Throughout New Jersey, 1,177 people are presently hospitalized with a case of COVID-19, or while awaiting confirmation of their symptoms. Of those 1,177 patients, 286 are in intensive or critical care, and 231 ICU and critical-care patients (80 percent) are on ventilators.
Overnight, 71 New Jersey hospitals admitted 61 new COVID-19 patients, and 108 others were discharged, either to a lower-acuity care setting or to their homes.
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 2.5 percent June 15; in South Jersey, it’s higher, at 4.69 percent.
Rt, or the estimated rate of transmission of new cases of the virus, was 0.7 percent on June 16. Those figures indicate that every person infected with COVID-19 is infecting less than one other person, on average, which means the number of new cases continues to decline.
Across New Jersey, 555 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and account for 35,600 infected patients and staff, or 21 percent of total cases.
That includes 23,656 residents and 11,944 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 6,152 lab-confirmed resident deaths (48 percent of the statewide total) and 116 facility-reported staff deaths.
Of 654 veterans residing in a state-run home, 386 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 146 have died from complications related to the virus. Three veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 226 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 211 of 1,234 patients and 494 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Seven staffers and 13 patients have died from complications related to the virus; unchanged since last week.
Fifteen patients are presently receiving care at one of the state’s field medical stations, which have served 491 people in total.
To date, 43 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, Persichilli said.
All have tested positive for an active COVID-19 infection or the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, indicating exposure to the virus. Five children are still currently hospitalized. No deaths have been associated with this syndrome in New Jersey.
Guidance for Father’s Day visits
Starting on Father’s Day, LTCs can welcome resident reunions with their loved ones in a designated outdoor space, and while supervised by a masked staff member.
Visitors and residents must wear face coverings and maintain a six-foot distance from one another, and only two visitors per resident may be permitted at a time.
Visitors must be screened and are not allowed beyond the reception areas of any facility; any resident with active COVID-19 symptoms cannot entertain guests.
Residents quarantined with COVID-19 or who are believed to have been exposed to the virus cannot have these visits.
Any resident who’s tested positive for the virus can have a visit “after they have met the criteria for discontinuation of their isolation,” Persichilli said.
Prior to scheduling visits, facilities must submit attestations to the Department of Health that they have implemented the requirements of its directive, and that they have sufficient staff, equipment, and outdoor space to facilitate visits.
“Virtual communication can never replace a gathering face to face,” Persichilli said. “We hope these outdoor visits bring joy and comfort to residents and their loved ones while also protecting them.”
She urged any resident or family member who believes their loved one needs help dealing with the emotional impact of the pandemic to call the state’s toll-free hotline at 866-202-HELP (4357).