New Jersey residents are urged to avoid out-of-state travel for ‘anything beyond that which is essential for your daily life,’ as cases surge across America.
By Matt Skoufalos | December 2, 2020
Another 4,350 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 346,206 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.
Sadly, 56 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 15,309 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,836 probable COVID-19-related deaths, up seven from prior levels.
Since March, 472 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 174 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 6.13 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 3.89-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.08, spot positivity 12.3 percent in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 13.68 percent November 28; in South Jersey, it was slightly lower, at 12.3 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, fell to 1.08 from samples taken November 30.
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.
Hospitalizations climb as new infections rise
Throughout New Jersey, 3,287 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, Murphy said, a count that roughly mirrors the 3,307 New Jersey residents who were hospitalized under the same circumstances May 19.
Yesterday 507 COVID-positive patients were admitted to New Jersey hospitals, while 367 were discharged.
Among those hospitalized patients, 599 were in intensive or critical care, and 354 of the ICU and critical-care patients (59 percent) are on ventilators.
“There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the increasing number of cases and the increase in the number of patients in our hospitals,” Murphy said. “We’re still weeks away from the first doses of a vaccine being ready for distribution to our healthcare workers, and months away, realistically, from a vaccine being readily available for public distribution.”
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,029 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 342 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 43,043 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 12 percent of total cases.
That includes 26,962 residents and 16,081 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,319 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (48 percent of the statewide total), with facilities self-reporting 122 staff deaths.
Of 656 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 407 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 250 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 263 of 1,172 patients and 596 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
To date, 61 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, New Jersey State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan 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, 70 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 285 individual cases have been traced to schools in 18 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 10 outbreaks have been linked to 57 cases. That’s the most in the state.
Travel advisory extended universally
Since the summer, the Murphy administration has issued an interstate travel advisory, providing weekly updated recommendations on how to avoid COVID-19 hot spots state by state.
The list gradually came to include nearly every state in the country as infections surged throughout the pandemic, and on Wednesday, Murphy simply issued a blanket recommendation that “no resident should be traveling out of state for anything beyond that which is essential for your daily life,” including commuting for work or seeking medical treatment.
“We understand that New Jerseyans may need to travel into neighboring states for shopping, worship, or similar daily or transient activities,” he said.
“But if you do travel outside of our immediate region, or you are coming into New Jersey from another state, we strongly urge you to observe a 14-day self-quarantine period, and at the right time, get tested.”
Exceptions to the rule were offered for healthcare workers, law enforcement, and active-duty military personnel.
“Otherwise, we’re asking everyone to simply not travel unless it is for an essential purpose,” the governor said.
“When we started doing this quarantine with New York and Connecticut, we had beaten the back of the curve down, and other states were just experiencing the front end of the first wave,” Murphy said. “It was and remains our sole objective to protect public health, either from folks who are New Jerseyans who have traveled out, or visitors who are coming in.”
Murphy renews calls for federal stimulus package
Finally, in his closing remarks Wednesday, the governor once again called upon federal lawmakers to deliver a national stimulus package for individuals and businesses whose work has been dramatically affected by the pandemic.
“We need a bridge from today until that better day, which is not that far forward,” Murphy said.
“I applaud everybody in Washington who are doing everything they can to try to get a federal stimulus deal done, which we so desperately need.”
The governor estimated the national need at more than $3 trillion, saying, “We need it now, and it has to be big.”
“History will not be unkind to us if we overshoot,” Murphy said. “It will be devastating, and it will be paid for in human suffering, if we undershoot.”
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