Coronavirus Update: 197,792 Infections, 14,263 Related Deaths; Young People Testing Positive at 3X Statewide Average


COVID-19 positivity rates among New Jersey residents 14 to 24 have doubled in the past month. In Camden County, the average age of a COVID-19-positive person has fallen to 25 years. 

By Matt Skoufalos | September 16, 2020

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 9-16-20. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 447 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 197,792 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.

Sadly, nine more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 14,263 lives lost during the pandemic.

Seven of those deaths happened within the past four days, and three were associated with a long-term care setting, Murphy said.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,791 probable COVID-19-related deaths, two more since last week.

In the past six months, 262 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.

More than 3 million people have been tested for the virus statewide, with a 2.25-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.06, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 2.06 percent September 12; in South Jersey, it was higher, at 2.45 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, has held at 1.06 from samples taken September 14.

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 9-16-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

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

Throughout New Jersey, 462 people currently are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19: 226 have tested positive for COVID-19, and 236 are awaiting confirmation of their symptoms.

Among those hospitalized patients, 100 are in intensive or critical care, and 38 of the ICU and critical-care patients (38 percent) are on ventilators.

Across the state, 695 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and 159 are dealing with an active outbreak.

LTCs account for 38,443 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 20 percent of total cases. That includes 24,978 residents and 13,465 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,138 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, 389 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 146 have died from complications related to the virus. Five veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 243 have recovered from the virus.

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 214 of 1,196 patients and 519 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.

Governor Phil Murphy – COVID-19 Briefing – 9-16-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

Young people testing positive for COVID-19 at three times the statewide average

Officials continued to caution residents about the uptick in COVID-19 positivity among teens and young adults.

Throughout New Jersey, “positivity rates among young people are roughly three times that of the statewide daily averages,” Murphy said.

Officials are tracking new cases of the virus to parties and indoor gatherings, he said.

“We think the system is working as it relates to back-to-school,” the governor said. “The overwhelming amount of evidence is it’s outside the school walls where we’re having our troubles.”

Persichilli reported that the positivity rate among 14-to-18-year-olds in New Jersey has more than doubled from 3 percent in mid-August to 7 percent a month later. Similarly, the positivity rate among 19-to-24-year-olds has risen from 2.7 percent to 7.1 percent during that same time.

“With schools and colleges reopening, this is just a reminder: please take this virus seriously,” Persichilli said.

The state has logged eight COVID-19-related deaths of people younger than 21; six of those were between 18 and 20, and had underlying conditions that may have made them more susceptible to the virus, the commissioner said.

In Camden County, the average age of a COVID-19 patient has now fallen to 25, with the highest positivity rate among those aged 19 to 25, Freeholder-Director Lou Cappelli said Wednesday.

Murphy signs package of COVID legislation

Finally, on Wednesday, the governor signed into law a quartet of bills aimed at improving “the resiliency and preparedness” of the state’s long-term care facilities vis-a-vis the pandemic.

Many of the recommendations codified in the legislation were developed based on the Manatt Health consultancy report commissioned by the state after its long-term care facilities were ravaged by the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic.

They are:

  • A4476/S2790 – establishes a Long-Term Care Emergency Operations Center (LTCEOC) from which to oversee concerns and risks related to long-term care facilities during the current and any subsequent pandemic
  • A4481/S2787 – establishes the New Jersey Task Force on Long-Term Care Quality and Safety
  • A4482/S2758 – raises minimum wages for long-term care staffers and establishes direct-care ratio requirements for nursing homes
  • A4547/S2813 – raises New Jersey Medicaid reimbursement rates by 10 percent through next July, provided that facilities dedicate 60 percent of the increase to raise pay for certified nursing aides and the remaining 40 percent for COVID-19-related ends. The bill also appropriates $62.3 million to support those rate adjustments.


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

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