Gatherings are contributing to most of the outbreaks, with day cares and farms right behind them, says New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
By Matt Skoufalos | October 19, 2020
Another 1,192 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 221,205 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
Five counties reported more than 100 new cases Monday (Ocean – 154, Essex – 132, Union – 109, Middlesex – 108, Bergen – 103) and three others weren’t far off (Monmouth – 84, Camden – 75, and Hudson – 78).
Many of the new cases are coming from “private gatherings inside private homes,” Murphy said.
“Especially as the cooler weather pulls more of us back inside, we have to remain extra vigilant,” the governor said.
Sadly, four more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 14,425 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,789 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
Since March, 276 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 164 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 4.2 million people have been tested for the virus statewide, with a 2.50-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.14, spot positivity lower in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 3.36 percent October 15; in South Jersey, it was slightly lower, at 3.47 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.14 from samples taken October 17.
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, 758 people currently are hospitalized with a case of COVID-19.
Of those, 579 have tested positive for COVID-19, and 179 are awaiting confirmation of their symptoms.
Among those hospitalized patients, 166 are in intensive or critical care, and 62 of the ICU and critical-care patients (37 percent) are on ventilators.
Across the state, 771 long-term care (LTC) centers have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and 156 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 39,381 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 18 percent of total cases.
That includes 25,469 residents and 13,912 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,189 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, 393 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 146 have died from complications related to the virus. Eight veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 244 have recovered from the virus. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also providing additional staffers for New Jersey veterans homes.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 223 of 1,173 patients and 527 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
To date, 59 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.
Since August 1, 22 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 83 individual cases have been traced to schools in 12 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, two outbreaks have been linked to 11 cases.
New outbreaks related to community spread
Since September 15, New Jersey has been charting a growing increase in the spread of COVID-19, Persichilli said Monday, with daily reports of cases having doubled along national trends.
In addition to hot spots in Ocean County and at universities, this is “mostly due to community spread,” she said.
“Excluding schools, congregate living, and healthcare, from March to October, we see the largest percentage of outbreaks (16 percent) are related to parties and gatherings, with daycare settings and farms right behind (13 percent each),” Persichilli said.
“Gatherings and parties are contributing to most of the outbreaks,” she continued. “As we approach the holiday season, now is the time to double down on good hygiene. Our behavior will be critical in shaping how our holidays will be celebrated.”
The statewide response to additional numbers of new cases would be to “increase testing, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine,” the Health Commissioner said.
Asked whether New Jersey’s increasing numbers would qualify it for placement on its own travel advisory list, Murphy advised that residents not travel except in essential circumstances, saying, “We’re going to focus on getting our numbers down.”
Finally, and in anticipation of the need for restaurants and bars to continue to do business outside, the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is extending outdoor liquor license permits through March 2021 for an additional $10 apiece.
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