Plus: one more New Jersey child has been infected with the COVID-19-related pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, for a total of 44, and the state is seeing an uptick in overdose deaths.
By Matt Skoufalos | June 22, 2020
Another 359 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 169,415 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
Sadly, 27 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 12,895 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.
Throughout New Jersey, 1,029 people are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19, or while awaiting confirmation of their symptoms. Of those hospitalized, 287 are in intensive or critical care; 213 of ICU and critical-care patients (74 percent) are on ventilators.
Overnight, 71 New Jersey hospitals admitted 46 new COVID-19 patients, and 70 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 2.42 percent June 18; in South Jersey, it’s more than double, at 5.37 percent. Spot positivity is a snapshot statistic, and the state’s report excludes serology tests, which can confirm the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, but not whether a patient actively has the virus.
“I hope it’s not a canary in the coal mine of shore-related infections,” Murphy said of the higher South Jersey spot positivity rate.
“We do know that there are some areas, particularly the testing of the seasonal workers, that has caused that to go up,” Persichilli later replied.
Rt, or the estimated rate of transmission of new cases of the virus, was 0.76 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, 556 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and account for 35,954 infected patients and staff, or 21 percent of total cases.
That includes 23,801 residents and 12,153 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 6,152 lab-confirmed resident deaths (48 percent of the statewide total) and 117 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. Eight veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 234 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 211 of 1,238 patients and 497 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, 44 New Jersey children, aged 1 to 18, have been diagnosed with pediatric multi-system 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.
Gathering limits up, indoor dining coming July 2
On Monday, Murphy raised outdoor gathering limits from 100 to 250 people, with no cap on outdoor religious and political activities.
“But if you’re a part of those, wear something on your face, keep social distance as best you can, wash your hands with soap and water, and get tested,” the governor said.
The limit for indoor gatherings has been elevated to the lesser of 25 percent of building capacity, or 100 people, and indoor dining can open July 2.
That’s also the date that Atlantic City casinos and racetracks can reopen for in-person gambling, as long as they abide by gathering limits. Any customer refusing to comply with mask-wearing and social distancing should expect to be escorted out, Murphy said.
“As we move forward, we fully anticipate being able to increase the indoor number as we feel it is safe to do so,” he said.
NJDOH to study increase in OD deaths
Persichilli also acknowledged the effects of “social isolation, grief, and job loss” in potentially contributing to an observable uptick in suspected overdose deaths.
The commissioner said New Jersey has seen 1,339 suspected overdose deaths thus far in 2020, up 20 percent from 2019 levels. In response, she said the state Department of Health will supply county departments with grants to staff “overdose fatality review teams” that will review the data.
“We do not want to see these trends continue,” Persichilli said.
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