Individual responsibility amid recently resumed in-person schooling, indoor dining, and amusements will dictate how smoothly the state proceeds to its next phase of reopening, the governor said.
By Matt Skoufalos | September 8, 2020
Another 284 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 194,667 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Tuesday.
Sadly, five more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 14,213 lives lost during the pandemic.
All five of those deaths happened more than two months ago, Murphy said.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,783 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
More than 3 million people have been tested for the virus statewide, with a 2.2-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents, according to figures reported by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
In the past six months, 259 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 162 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications, on average, according to the NJDOH.
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 1.83 percent September 4. As ever, it is highest in South Jersey, at 3.15 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.10 from samples taken September 6.
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.
Long-term care accounts for half of all deaths, a fifth of those infected
Throughout New Jersey, 419 people currently are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19: 227 have tested positive for COVID-19, and 192 are awaiting confirmation of their symptoms.
Among those hospitalized patients, 82 are in intensive or critical care, and 33 of the ICU and critical-care patients (40 percent) are on ventilators.
Across the state, 670 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and 154 are dealing with an active outbreak.
LTCs account for 38,322 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 20 percent of total cases.
That includes 24,925 residents and 13,397 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,117 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (50 percent of the statewide total), with facilities self-reporting 121 staff deaths.
Of 656 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. Nine veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 242 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 213 of 1,190 patients and 517 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
To date, 57 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.
All those pediatric patients 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, although several children have been hospitalized during their treatment.
Murphy: ‘without question,’ school openings will lead to more outbreaks
Over the holiday weekend, New Jersey observed “very few reported cases of knucklehead behavior” amid the resumption of indoor dining and reopening of entertainment venues, Murphy said.
This week, the state will face another test with the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
On Tuesday, Murphy announced that 723 school districts had completed their reopening plans with the approval of the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE). Another 86 were returned for revision, for “largely technical or staffing issues,” the governor said; only one school awaits an NJDOE review of its plan.
Of the 723 plans finalized with the state:
- 388 (54 percent) will follow a hybrid model of remote and in-person instruction
- 238 (33 percent) will offer only remote instruction
- 69 (10 percent) will return fully to in-person instruction
- 28 (4 percent) will provide a combination of remote and in-person instruction
With the majority of school districts across New Jersey opening to some form of in-person education, the governor said “we should all expect that there will be [future COVID-19 outbreaks or quarantining], without question.”
How residents respond to those challenges will dictate how smoothly the state proceeds to its next phase of reopening, Murphy said.
“We know that when we’ve taken steps, we take on more risk, whether that was parks and golf early on, or beaches, and now outdoor dining and indoor activities,” the governor said. “This virus ebbs and flows; it undulates.”
As the country heads into flu season, New Jersey State Epidemiologist Christina Tan reminded residents to consider getting an influenza vaccine this month or next.
Tan stressed the utility of the vaccine in limiting or preventing respiratory infection, particularly amid the presence of COVID-19, adding that “September-October is the optimal time” to get a flu shot.
Whether Americans will have access to a COVID-19 vaccine by year’s end or not, the governor said he’s “hoping for the best.” Once a vaccine is available, Murphy said that, as with COVID-19 testing, distribution will be guided by a principle of equity to ensure all New Jerseyans have an opportunity to access it. The first wave of any inoculations would be offered to those frontline workers and vulnerable populations at the outset, he said.
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