Coronavirus Update: 415,075 Infections, 16,095 Related Deaths; 1 in 200 NJ Residents Has Been Hospitalized with COVID-19

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As infections swell in the ninth month of the pandemic, 44,461 New Jerseyans have been hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment at some point, and the state has sustained more than 16,000 related fatalities. 

By Matt Skoufalos | December 16, 2020

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 12-16-20. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 5,803 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 415,075 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.

Sadly, 91 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 16,095 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,908 probable COVID-19-related deaths, up 41 from prior levels.

Since March, 502 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 182 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

That translates to more than 1 in 200 New Jerseyans checking into the hospital for treatment at some point during the pandemic, or nearly 45,000 residents in a state of 8.8 million people.

To date, more than 6.94 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 4.66-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.08, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 13.08 percent December 12; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 12.39 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, rose to 1.08 from samples taken December 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.

‘Thank you’ sign nailed to a telephone pole in Connecticut, celebrating ICU nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo by Nicholas Bartos on Unsplash

ICU bed usage holds steady

Throughout New Jersey, 3,672 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (210) or confirmed (3,462) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

Yesterday 489 COVID-positive patients were admitted to New Jersey hospitals, while 451 were discharged.

Among those hospitalized patients, 721 were in intensive or critical care, and 482 of the ICU and critical-care patients (67 percent) are on ventilators.

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,104 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 400 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 45,714 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 11 percent of total cases.

That includes 28,253 residents and 17,461 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,389 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (46 percent of the statewide total), with facilities self-reporting 124 staff deaths.

Of 656 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 417 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 147 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, 267 of 1,130 patients and 721 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.

To date, 65 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

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, 98 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 428 individual cases have been traced to schools in 19 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 13 outbreaks have been linked to 66 cases, second-most in the state.

Ambulatory Care Technician Sady Ferguson, right, administers a vaccination for COVID-19 to Medical Office Assistant Yvelisse Covington at University Hospital in Newark, NJ. Covington was among the first group of people in New Jersey to receive the vaccination. Credit: Kirsten Luce for The New York Times.

Nor’Easter sends New Jersey into state of emergency

Addressing residents from the New Jersey Statewide Traffic Management Center in Fords on Wednesday morning, Murphy urged residents to maintain pandemic precautions while supporting their fellow neighbors during the storm.

“This is our first [cold]  weather emergency of this pandemic, and we don’t want anyone’s last-minute preparations to inadvertently become an instance where they’re exposed to coronavirus, or potentially and unknowingly spread it to others,” the governor said.

“We’re going to want to chip in to help our neighbors and shovel out, especially our older residents, but please keep in mind the need for maintaining social distancing and wearing a face covering while doing so,” he said.

As the first healthcare workers in the state received their vaccines yesterday, Murphy called upon New Jerseyans to “harden our resolve, not lessen it; to continue with things like social distancing, wearing our masks, washing our hands, and doing everything we can to protect our families and our communities.”

Officials urged residents to remain off the roadways so that road crews can work during the snowstorm.

“We ask you to clear the roads so we can clear the roads,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Spreaders and plows need room to do their jobs, and it is best for people to stay off the roads during a storm.”

“If you don’t need to be out there, don’t be out there,” said New Jersey State Police Col. Pat Callahan, describing “whiteout conditions” with high winds and the potential for coastal flooding.

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

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