Plus: COVID-19 Halloween guidelines from the New Jersey Department of Health.
By Matt Skoufalos | October 5, 2020
Another 522 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 208,713 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
“We remain concerned with Ocean and Monmouth Counties in particular,” the governor said.
Sadly, two more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 14,351 lives lost during the pandemic.
Both deaths occurred September 26 and 27.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,787 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
In the past six months, 268 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 163 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 3.5 million people have been tested for the virus statewide, with a 2.37-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.15, spot positivity higher in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 2.62 percent October 1; in South Jersey, it was 2.56 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.27 from samples taken October 3, “which is a little bit higher than we would like,” Murphy said.
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, 507 people currently are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19: 320 have tested positive for COVID-19, and 187 are awaiting confirmation of their symptoms.
Among those hospitalized patients, 102 are in intensive or critical care, and 34 of the ICU and critical-care patients (33 percent) are on ventilators, an increase from the prior two weeks, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
Across the state, 731 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and 152 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 38,852 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 20 percent of total cases.
That includes 25,183 residents and 13,669 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,160 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, 390 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 146 have died from complications related to the virus. Three veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 244 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 214 of 1,170 patients and 524 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
To date, 58 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, 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: Trump’s NJ visit ‘completely unacceptable, completely reckless, and completely uncalled for’
The governor opened Monday’s briefing with sharp words for President Donald Trump, whose campaign fundraiser last Thursday at a Bedminster golf course was held despite the president and those closest to him having tested positive for COVID-19 hours beforehand.
“It is clear that the president and his staff acted recklessly in coming to New Jersey in the first place, knowing that they had been exposed to someone with a confirmed positive test,” Murphy said.
“That trip was completely unacceptable, completely reckless, and completely uncalled for,” the governor said. “The actions leading up to and during this event have put lives at risk.”
The event was held at Trump National Golf Club, and 206 attendees and 19 staff members there are believed to have been at risk for a potential exposure to the virus. Health officials are working to contact all attendees to advise them of the risks, and to encourage them to quarantine for 14 days while they monitor symptoms.
“New Jersey residents are our top focus, but we are also working with the CDC to contact all out-of-state attendees,” Murphy said, urging those present at the event to “get tested between tomorrow and Thursday at the earliest.”
New Jersey State Epidemiologist Christina Tan said those potentially exposed to the virus at the event ought to wait five to seven days until after their exposure to get tested.
“Sometimes if you get tested very quickly after a possible exposure, you might not be able to pick up the fact that you have a possible infection,” Tan said. “If you get tested the day after you get exposed to someone who is a COVID-19 case, you might not have built up enough virus to be detected by the test.”
Since the incubation period for COVID-19 is roughly one day to two weeks, the median time for being tested is five to seven days, Tan said.
Halloween guidance for COVID-19
On Monday, the New Jersey Department of Health also issued guidelines to keep families safe during Halloween.
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth; a costume mask doesn’t count.
- Arrange treats in a way that they can be snagged without multiple pieces being touched.
- Parties are still subject to indoor and outdoor gathering limits.
- Limit trick-or-treating groups to current household members, stay local, and limit the number of homes on your route.
- Social distancing should be practiced among those who are not of the same household.
- If you are handing out candy, limit interaction, wear a mask, and regularly wash your hands.
- Any candy given out should be commercially packaged and non-perishable.
- Trunk-or-treats should be limited in terms of participants, arranged in a line, not a circle, and potentially organized by assigned times.
- Don’t participate if you’re sick or symptomatic.
“You may wish to dress as a knucklehead this Halloween, but we don’t want anyone to act like one,” Murphy said. “We want to ensure that everyone has the chance to enjoy Halloween, but we also want to ensure that everyone does that safely and responsibly.”
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.