Coronavirus Update: 187,767 Infections, 14,077 Related Deaths; ‘Trying to Get to Yes’ on Gyms, Indoor Dining


Plus, officials stumped for the resumption of outdoor high-school sports, on which the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) is set to make a determination this week.

By Matt Skoufalos | August 17, 2020

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 8-17-20. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 316 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 187,767 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.

New Jersey shed nearly 300 previously reported positive tests, having identified them as out-of-state residents.

However, the governor also added that those disqualified results accounted for less than 10 percent of all positive tests reported in the past week.

Sadly, four more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 14,077 lives lost during the pandemic. One of those deaths occurred this month, two in July, and the fourth in May, the governor said.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,839 probable COVID-19-related deaths.

Rate of transmission (Rt) rises to 1.03, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 1.65 percent August 13, down for a third consecutive reporting day.

Still, it’s highest in South Jersey, at 3.12 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.03 from samples taken August 15.

An Rt figure greater than 1.0 means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting more than one other person, on average, and the spread of the virus is increasing.

Since its mid-April COVID-19 spike, the highest reported RT in New Jersey was 1.48, recorded August 1. The lowest was 0.62, recorded June 9.

NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli – COVID-19 Briefing 8-17-20. Credit: NJ PEN.

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

Throughout New Jersey, 472 people currently are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19: 274 have tested positive for COVID-19, and 208 are awaiting confirmation of their symptoms.

Among those hospitalized patients, 91 are in intensive or critical care, and 38 of the ICU and critical-care patients (42 percent) are on ventilators.

Across the state, 627 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and 216 are dealing with an active outbreak.

LTCs account for 37,743 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 20 percent of total cases.

That includes 24,656 residents and 13,087 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,020 lab-confirmed resident deaths (50 percent of the statewide total) and 120 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 1,201 patients and 515 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, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. There have been 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. No deaths have been associated with this syndrome in New Jersey.

Governor Phil Murphy – COVID-19 Briefing – 8-17-20. Credit: NJ PEN.

‘We’re trying to get to yes’ on indoor activities

Pressed to offer a timeline on when New Jersey’s gyms, indoor dining, and movie theaters might be permitted to resume business, Murphy said officials don’t have any to offer.

Decision-makers are “keenly aware” of the suddenness with which many businesses were twice ordered closed during the pandemic, he said, adding that officials “are trying to get to yes.

“We’re not there yet,” Murphy said, “but we’re trying like heck to get there, and we want to get there sooner than later.

“We cannot put the car in reverse once we’ve made that decision, so we’re just being extra-careful,” the governor said.

Murphy: fall sports could proceed safely

Although the final determination on the fate of high-school sports rests with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), Murphy stumped for fall athletics on Monday.

“I think if a sport is outdoors and it’s institutionally supported, there just isn’t evidence of outdoor flare-ups,” the governor said.

“The flare-ups that we’ve seen at the college level, even at the community level, as far as we can tell, have been overwhelmingly tied back to indoor activities that were away from the athletic activities,” he said.

If organized “responsibly” and “institutionally,” within the oversight of state-sanctioned leagues, Murphy said he supports “outdoor sports that limit travel.”

NJ Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly – COVID-19 Briefing 8-17-20. CreditL NJ PEN.

New Jersey Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D, NJ-35), himself a longtime high-school football coach, said that school-based athletics offers “a safe and structured environment” for student athletes who need the physical and mental health outlet.

Without those opportunities, Wimberly said he fears third-party club and travel teams “maybe waiting for us to fold” could invite increased COVID-19 risk by proceeding “without the proper precautions.”

“At a local level, you know your kids are going to come from that particular community,” he said.

“A college, you can have kids from 20 different states,” Wimberly said. “A third-party group can have kids from all over the country being part of it, so I feel there’s a major difference.”

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

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