Coronavirus Update: 3,347 New Cases, Virus Hits 6-Day Doubling Rate; Social Distancing ‘No. 1 Weapon’ Against ‘Nightmare Scenario’


Another 41 cases cropped up in Camden County overnight. Nearly 200 people have perished from the virus statewide, and a surge is “expected imminently,” says Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

By Matt Skoufalos | March 30, 2020

Without social distancing, New Jersey could hit 80,000 cases of COVID-19 in short order. Credit: NJ Pen/NJDOH.

New Jersey logged another 3,347 positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) March 30, bringing the statewide tally to 16,636 confirmed cases, Governor Phil Murphy announced Monday.

Camden County added 41 new cases overnight; details on those were not immediately available, but the county offered an update later in the day.

The state has also absorbed 37 more deaths related to the virus, for 198 in total, Murphy said.

With 95 percent of all labs reporting, 40,806 tests have been administered in New Jersey, of which 38 percent, or 15,582 samples, were positive, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

As officials work to stave off a surge in new cases that she described as being “expected imminently,” Murphy again issued a call for residents to stay at home.

“Without social distancing, we would have expected to hit our entire statewide capacity for ICU beds on Wednesday,” the governor said.

“In 10 days from now, we would have expected to exhaust our entire supply of hospital beds,” he said. “Our number of residents needing ventilators would exceed our total number of beds, and this supposes just 5 percent of cases need hospitalization, and just 1 percent need a ventilator.

Such circumstances reflect “the nightmare scenario that we are desperately working to avoid, and that we are asking every New Jerseyan to help us avoid,” Murphy said.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli COVID-19 briefing, 3-30-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

If the virus peaks in early to mid-May, as it’s tracking now, some 80,000 residents could be hospitalized without social distancing restrictions in place.

The state is only home to 18,000 hospital beds and 2,000 critical-care beds; with no mitigation efforts, as many as 40,000 beds could be needed to care for COVID-19 patients.

“You can see the mismatch that is before us unless we succeed at social distancing,” Murphy said.

“The number-one weapon we have is stay[ing]at home.”

According to the University of Pennsylvania CHIME model (COVID-19 Hospital Impact Model for Epidemics), which forecasts the impact of the virus, Persichilli said the state is likely to hit its capacity of intensive-care unit (ICU) beds April 11. That assumes a 31-percent compliance rate with social distancing behaviors; New Jersey is operating at a 40-to-45-percent rate, Persichilli said.

“This modeling relies on the impact of social distancing, the number of positive cases reported daily, the number of cases in hospital and length of stay, and number of positive cases and cases under investigation,” Persichilli said.

Therefore, the state must expand its capacity in other ways, adding medical-surgical beds for lower-acuity patients, reopening shuttered hospitals, and reserving hotels, motels, and dormitories for less critical cases.

“The primary hospitals will become large, critical-care units,” Persichilli said. “We will be decanting to lower levels of care into field hospitals, re-opened general hospitals that have been closed within the last five years, and increasing 2,000 beds [through]  dormitories and hotels.

There’s also a national search on for personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators for patients affected by the virus. New Jersey has requested 2,300 ventilators from the national stockpile, of which 300 were released by the federal government, and is attempting to procure another 2,000 on the open market.

In the meantime, hospitals are poised to share ventilators between two patients, and officials continue to ask more residents to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Seal of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Credit: NJ-OAG.

Crackdown on violations; relaxed rules for beer delivery, car and gun sales

Amid the pandemic, the state also has convened a task force to combat charity scams, procurement fraud, price gouging, and hoarding of PPE.

Residents who spot unlawful activity are asked to contact or to call 866-720-5721.

Thus far, the state has seen 70 compliance issues and 34 indictable offenses throughout the span of Murphy’s stay-at-home order.

The governor also announced some relief for a handful of business sectors.

  • The state division of Alcoholic Beverage Control reversed an earlier determination prohibiting direct home delivery of beer from microbreweries and brew pubs. Now those breweries will again be able to deliver during the pandemic.
  • Auto dealerships are permitted to sell vehicles both online and remotely, and may direct-deliver cars or offer curbside pickup to customers.
  • Firearms dealers, which had been shuttered, are now allowed to operate by appointment only, and during limited hours, throughout the pandemic.


The governor also promised that he would be “reviewing all options” to deal with landlords who push rent hikes during the pandemic and creditors of any kind who are not offering flexibility to those out of work due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

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

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