Coronavirus Update: 171,272 Infections, 13,138 Related Deaths, NJ ‘Presses Pause’ on Indoor Dining Restart


Plus: hospital visitation guidance has been expanded to allow expectant mothers to bring a doula or midwife along with her support person during labor and delivery.

By Matt Skoufalos | June 29, 2020

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 6-29-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

Another 156 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 171,272 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.

Murphy offered a caveat that due to “some technical issues,” some new infections may not have been included in that count.

Sadly, 18 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 13,138 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state also recognizes another 1,854 probable COVID-19-related deaths.

Throughout New Jersey, 978 people are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19, or while awaiting confirmation of their symptoms. Among those patients, 225 are in intensive or critical care, and 185 of ICU and critical-care patients (82 percent) are on ventilators.

Overnight, 45 New Jersey hospitals admitted 59 new COVID-19 patients, and 70 others were discharged, either to a lower-acuity care setting or to their homes.

Estimated rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, June 29, 2020. Credit: NJ Pen.

Rate of transmission (Rt) holding steady

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 1.92 percent June 25; in South Jersey, it’s almost double, at 3.53 percent.

Rt, or the estimated rate of transmission of new cases of the virus, was 0.86 percent on June 27, unchanged since numbers reported Friday.

That figure indicates that every person infected with COVID-19 is infecting less than one other person, on average. However, it remains up significantly from a low of 0.62 recorded on June 9.

Long-term care accounts for almost half of all deaths, a fifth of those infected

Across New Jersey, 557 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and account for 36,324 infected patients and staff, or 21 percent of total cases.

That includes 24,102 residents and 12,222 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 6,389 lab-confirmed resident deaths (49 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. Seven veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 236 have recovered from the virus.

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 211 of 1,237 patients and 498 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Seven staffers and 13 patients have died from complications related to the virus.

Three patients are presently receiving care at one of the state’s field medical stations, which have served 491 people in total.

To date, 47 New Jersey children, aged 1 to 18, have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said, unchanged since last week.

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.

NJ postpones indoor dining due to fears of increased COVID-19 cases. Credit: NJ Pen.

Indoor dining delayed indefinitely, bars causes for concern as well

In the biggest announcement of Monday’s briefing, Murphy said the state “must push pause” on its planned reopening of indoor dining businesses, adding that indoor restaurant service will be resumed at a date “to be determined.”

Businesses had been set to reopen at one-quarter of indoor dining capacity on Thursday, July 2.

“We do not believe it is prudent at this time to push forward with what is, in effect, a sedentary, indoor activity,” Murphy said.

“We have enormous sympathy, but the alternative here is worse and unacceptable.”

The governor cited “the national situation, compounded by knucklehead behavior here at home,” as the reasons behind the move. He worried that New Jersey risks a spike in new cases amid “overcrowding and complete disregard for social distancing, [and]  very few, if any, face coverings.”

“We have lived through hell in this state to get where we are,” Murphy said. “Everything we do is to keep that progress up.”

The governor also said bar service is “as big a risk on the inside as the indoor dining piece,” adding that once indoor dining reopens, “it’s not there to congregate.

“We want to make this perfectly clear: whenever it is we do go inside, the bar is there exclusively to serve drinks to people who are seated at a table,” Murphy said.

NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli – COVID-19 Briefing 6-29-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

Doulas, midwives added to hospitals

New Jersey hospitals may expand their visitor policies to allow doulas and midwives to attend to pregnant women in addition to a “designated support person,” Persichilli announced Monday.

In early May, the commissioner first expanded visitation guidance to allow labor and delivery patients to welcome “a spouse, partner, sibling, doula, or any person the expectant mother chooses.”

Monday’s order doesn’t make women choose between bringing a partner or friend and a doula.

With this new directive, expectant mothers will have additional physical and emotional support at what can be a joyful but also stressful time,” Persichilli said.

All doulas must be screened for symptoms and undergo temperature checks before arriving and every 12 hours once checked in. After admission, they will be confined to the labor and delivery unit once admitted. Every pregnant woman also must be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission, Persichilli said.

Read our ongoing round-up of COVID-19 coverage here.

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