New Jersey health officials reported 3,078 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday — the third time in five days with more than 3,000 cases — and 15 additional deaths as hospitalizations continue a steady climb to levels not seen since early June.
“The numbers are rising. Take this seriously, folks,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday in a tweet announcing the latest numbers. “Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.”
The governor and health officials have continued to warn the next few months will be critical as cases likely will continue to rise as people may head indoors to celebrate upcoming holidays with their families.
“Listen, we’re in the teeth of this right now we don’t have the luxury of being as much of our lives outdoors as we did in warmer weather,” Murphy said Tuesday during a radio interview. “We’re in the fight.”
The 15 new fatalities reported Wednesday brings the death toll to 16,476 — 14,676 confirmed and 1,800 probable fatalities. The state did not disclose when the newly-reported deaths occurred.
New Jersey has reported 263,495 total positive tests during the eight-month outbreak. The seven-day average for new positive tests increased Wednesday to 2,655, a 50% increase from a week earlier and 237% higher than a month ago.
Twelve of the state’s 21 counties reported more than 100 new cases Wednesday, led by Essex County with 360. The statewide positivity rate for tests conducted on Friday, the most recent day available was 7.98%. That number had been below 4% throughout the summer.
Murphy announced Tuesday the state tightened its travel restrictions to include less than a half-dozen states and territories where people can travel without having to quarantine.
There are a total of 45 states and territories considered hot spots. Five neighboring states, however, including New Jersey, technically meet the criteria to be on the advisory, but are considered exempt.
New restrictions on bars and restaurants that require them to close at 10 p.m. each night will go into effect Thursday, as well as a ban at seating at all indoor bars. Also, all indoor interstate organized sports up to the high school level will be off-limits under the new rules.
Health officials warned between 2,000 and 3,000 new cases will likely be announced daily going forward. In addition, there are likely even more cases that not being reported since the results of recently deployed rapid tests are not included in the daily figures.
The state’s daily counts include the more trusted PCR tests, which typically take a few days for results.
Ed Lifshitz, the medical director of the Department of Health’s Communicable Disease Service, said estimated that the state’s daily count of new coronavirus cases could actually be 10% to 20% higher if rapid tests were reported.
New Jersey recently received 2.6 million of the rapid tests from the federal government and those tests are being used in hot spots.
COUNTY-BY-COUNTY NUMBERS (sorted by most new cases)
- Essex County: 28,451 positive tests (360 new), 1,931 confirmed deaths (230 probable)
- Bergen County: 27,678 positive tests (312 new), 1,830 confirmed deaths (245 probable)
- Hudson County: 25,671 positive tests (282 new), 1,382 confirmed deaths (158 probable)
- Passaic County: 23,388 positive tests (276 new), 1,132 confirmed deaths (141 probable)
- Middlesex County: 24,606 positive tests (246 new), 1,257 confirmed deaths (203 probable)
- Union County: 22,824 positive tests (239 new), 1,215 confirmed deaths (168 probable)
- Camden County: 13,638 positive tests (212 new), 591 confirmed deaths (53 probable)
- Monmouth County: 15,729 positive tests (173 new), 784 confirmed deaths (92 probable)
- Ocean County: 17,933 positive tests (155 new), 1,014 confirmed deaths (66 probable)
- Morris County: 10,550 positive tests (141 new), 699 confirmed deaths (145 probable)
- Mercer County: 10,368 positive tests (131 new), 607 confirmed deaths (36 probable)
- Burlington County: 9,728 positive tests (101 new), 481 confirmed deaths (41 probable)
- Atlantic County: 6,114 positive tests (99 new), 257 confirmed deaths (14 probable)
- Gloucester County: 6,458 positive tests (94 new), 245 confirmed deaths (7 probable)
- Somerset County: 7,212 positive tests (74 new), 525 confirmed deaths (75 probable)
- Cumberland County: 4,321 positive tests (35 new), 156 confirmed deaths (8 probable)
- Sussex County: 1,939 positive tests (27 new), 162 confirmed deaths (36 probable)
- Hunterdon County: 1,854 positive tests (25 new), 73 confirmed deaths (54 probable)
- Warren County: 1,876 positive tests (20 new), 158 confirmed deaths (13 probable)
- Cape May County: 1,253 positive tests (16 new), 92 confirmed deaths (10 probable)
- Salem County: 1,265 positive tests (12 new), 85 confirmed deaths (5 probable)
There were 1,801 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across the Garden State’s 71 hospitals as of Tuesday night. That’s 156 more than the night before and 108 more than Sunday. It’s the highest number since June 5.
There were 334 patients in critical or intensive care (seven more than the night before), including 104 on ventilators (six more).
There were 179 coronavirus patients discharged Tuesday, according to the state’s online dashboard.
New Jersey’s latest transmission rate of 1.27, up from 1.25 on Tuesday. The rate has hovered around those numbers since a recent low of 1.13 on Oct. 20.
That’s much lower than when the rate was above 5 toward the end of March as the extent of the outbreak was still coming into focus. But any number above 1 means each newly-infected person, on average, is spreading the virus to at least one other person. Any number below 1 means the virus’ spread is decreasing.
A transmission rate of 1.27 means every 100 infected people will spread the virus to 127 others.
Since the start of the school year, at least 146 New Jersey students and educators have either contracted COVID-19 or passed it on to someone else while in the classroom, walking around their schools or participating in extracurricular activities, state officials said.
The 146 cases were part of 36 confirmed school outbreaks that local health investigations concluded were the result of students and teachers catching the coronavirus at school.
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.4%), followed by those 50-64 (25.1%), 18-29 (17.9%), 65-79 (12.1%), 80 and older (7.7%), 5-17 (4.6%), and 0-4 (0.9%).
On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (47.86%), followed by those 65-79 (31.54%), 50-64 (15.83%), 30-49 (4.36%), 18-29 (0.38%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).
At least 7,230 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Officials warned Monday that while a larger percentage of younger people had been contracting the virus in recent months, older people are now getting it at a faster clip.
Meanwhile, at least 17,500 more people in New Jersey have died this year than would be expected, state mortality data shows, which suggests the pandemic has claimed even more lives than state totals, according to an ongoing analysis by NJ Advance Media.
As of Wednesday morning, there have been 51.6 million positive COVID-19 tests across the globe, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.27 million people have died.
The United States has the most positive tests in the world, with more than 10.26 million, and the most deaths – 239,690.