Rt, the rate of transmission of new cases of the virus, hit its highest total in eight weeks, indicating increased spread statewide.
By Katrina Janco | August 3, 2020
Another 264 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 182,614 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
Sadly, 10 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 13,971 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state also recognizes another 1,875 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
Throughout New Jersey, 738 people are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19: 356 have tested positive for COVID-19, and 382 are awaiting confirmation of their symptoms.
Among those hospitalized patients, 144 are in intensive or critical care, and 49 of ICU and critical-care patients (34 percent) are on ventilators.
Rate of transmission (Rt) hits 1.48, spot positivity remains highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 1.88 percent July 30; in South Jersey, it was nearly double, at 3.46 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, continued to climb to 1.48 as of August 1, overtaking last Friday’s high of 1.35.
Any Rt figure of more than 1.0 means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting more than one other person, on average, which means the virus is spreading.
The lowest recorded Rt since the mid-April COVID-19 spike in New Jersey was 0.62, recorded June 9. A month ago, it was 0.87, Murphy pointed out Monday.
“We need low-single-digit spot positivity, which we have, and rate of transmission below 1, which we don’t have,” the governor said.
Long-term care accounts for half of all deaths
Across New Jersey, 610 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and account for 37,750 infected patients and staff, or 21 percent of total cases.
That includes 24,795 residents and 12,955 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 6,939 lab-confirmed resident deaths (50 percent of the statewide total) and 121 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. Six veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 242 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 213 of 1,221 patients and 509 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
To date, 55 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. One child is still currently hospitalized. No deaths have been associated with this syndrome in New Jersey.
New restrictions on indoor gatherings and benchmarks
Following steady increases in both the number of new COVID-19 positive test results statewide and in the rate of transmission of new cases of the virus reported throughout New Jersey, Murphy tightened up limits on indoor gathering Monday.
“Today, I am exercising this option, not with joy, but out of necessity, which I had hoped not to have to take in pulling back on such gatherings,” the governor said.
Citing several incidents of heavily attended indoor parties, Murphy rolled back indoor gathering limits from a maximum of 100 people to a maximum of 25-percent of capacity, capped at 25. The limitations will hold until New Jersey can show a solid decrease in its number of new cases over a seven-day trend, he said.
The change does not apply to weddings, funerals, and memorial services, nor to first-amendment-protected religious and political activities; all of these can hold at the 100-person maximum.
Murphy again emphasized the need for residents to take personal responsibility for wearing face coverings, social distancing, and quarantining while waiting for test results. Persichilli said the state is only getting a five-to-10-percent return rate of surveying travelers who might be subject to voluntary quarantine upon arriving in the state.
Department of Education reopening guidelines and face coverings requirements
With New Jersey schools set to reopen in the coming weeks, Murphy announced that the New Jersey Department of Education is finalizing an FAQ document about school reopening plans to assist school districts.
Among the details he noted: face coverings will be required for all students at all times while inside a school building, regardless of social distancing. There will be no “mask breaks” for kids within the course of a school day, as some districts had allocated, he said.
“We know that face coverings work, and we will now ensure that everyone in a school building will wear one,” Murphy said.
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