Coronavirus Update: 174,039 Infected, 13,476 Related Deaths, Masks Mandatory in Close Quarters Outdoors


Plus: New Jersey charts 1,947 COVID-19-probable deaths as the statewide rate of transmission (Rt) continues to climb above 1.0.

By Matt Skoufalos | July 8, 2020

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 7-8-20. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 335 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 174,039 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.

Sadly, 53 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 13,476 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state also recognized another 91 probable COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total to 1,947.

Throughout New Jersey, 935 people are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19, or while awaiting confirmation of their symptoms. Among those patients, 175 are in intensive or critical care, and 142 of ICU and critical-care patients (81 percent) are on ventilators.

Overnight, 44 New Jersey hospitals admitted 51 new COVID-19 patients, and 83 others were discharged, either to a lower-acuity care setting or to their homes.

NJ COVID-19 rate of transmission (Rt) as of July 4, 2020. Credit: NJ Pen.

Rate of transmission (Rt) up to 1.10, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 3.23 percent July 4; in South Jersey, it’s slightly higher, at 3.30 percent.

The total number of tests performed that day was lower than normal because of the holiday, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

On July 6, Rt, or the rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, stood at 1.10, up from 1.03 on July 4. That means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting more than one other person, on average, which means the virus is spreading.

As measured in New Jersey, Rt has been steadily increasing from a low of 0.62 recorded June 9.

NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli – COVID-19 Briefing 7-8-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

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 36,754 infected patients and staff, or 21 percent of total cases.

That includes 24,320 residents and 12,434 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 6,631 lab-confirmed resident deaths (49 percent of the statewide total) and 119 facility-reported staff deaths.

Of 654 veterans residing in a state-run home, 388 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 239 have recovered from the virus.

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 212 of 1,235 patients and 503 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Seven staffers and 13 patients have died from complications related to the virus.

To date, 51 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, Persichilli said; no new cases this week.

All have tested positive for an active COVID-19 infection or the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, indicating exposure to the virus. Nine children are still currently hospitalized. No deaths have been associated with this syndrome in New Jersey.

Persichilli also noted that the Atlantic City field medical station has been shut down in the absence of patients; however, she said the supplies used there are being kept in storage in case hospitals need the extra support in the future.

Mask diagram, NJ briefing 6-30-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

Face masks mandatory outdoors in close quarters, Murphy calls for aid

On Wednesday, the governor signed an executive order requiring face masks to be worn throughout New Jersey in outdoor situations where social distancing is not possible.

By way of example, he offered the scenarios of “a packed boardwalk,” or when waiting in an improperly spaced line.

Exceptions to the rule include for eating or drinking outdoors, for those with health conditions that could be aggravated by wearing a mask, for children younger than two, and when participating in an aerobic or anaerobic workout.

The governor called the order “a step, frankly, that I had hoped we would not have to take.

“Unfortunately, we have been seeing a backslide in compliance as the weather has gotten warmer, and not surprisingly, as a result, our rate of transmission has crept up,” Murphy said.

Finally, the governor rebuked the federal government for failing to pass additional legislation to bolster New Jersey’s decimated state budget, and called upon the state legislature to pass measures allowing for additional borrowing.

“Without bonding, we cannot simply cut our way out of the budgetary hole we will fall into,” Murphy said, bemoaning the potential loss of funding for education and social service programs.

“This is a multibillion-dollar hole,” he said. “We’ve had no other choice to make. I cannot allow politics to deny our state the resources we need to provide relief for millions of families.”

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

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