The recent surge of new cases of the coronavirus has led to the number of patients seeking treatment in New Jersey’s hospitals to double in just two weeks and more than triple since last month to levels not seen since late May.
There were 2,446 people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across the state’s 71 hospitals as of Tuesday night. That’s up from 1,213 patients on Nov. 3 and more than triple the amount (732) being treated on Oct. 17.
That’s still far below the peak in hospitalizations in mid-April when more than 8,000 were being treated. But the number has consistently increased since October after hovering at steady lows in August and September.
New Jersey’s patient count increased by 100 from Monday to Tuesday, despite 288 patients being discharged from hospitals. Hospitalizations have increased for 19 consecutive day and reached 2,000 patients on Saturday for the first time in a little over five months.
The increase in hospitalizations typically several days or a week after seeing spikes in new cases. New Jersey hit record highs in cases over the weekend, though testing is far more widespread than the previous record in the spring. Gov. Phil Murphy said, however, the second wave of the outbreak has arrived.
“We’re continuing to do everything we possibly can to push back against the current COVID-19 pandemic and this second wave and save every life we possibly can — especially as this second wave is now crashing around us,” Murphy said Tuesday.
In the past week, Murphy has ordered indoor bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. daily, canceled interstate indoor sports up the high school level and enacted new limits on the sizes of indoor and outdoor gatherings. He has another briefing planned for Wednesday at 1 p.m. in Trenton.
Several hospitals in the state have recently gone on divert status and temporarily stopped accepting new patients due to volume. New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli confirmed last week they hit capacity in part because of the influx of COVID-19 patients. Just one hospital reported being on full divert Wednesday morning due to patient volume.
The state has now had 285,519 positive tests and 16,618 deaths — 14,817 confirmed and 1,801 probable fatalities — since the outbreak began in March.
The second wave of the pandemic could peak toward the end of this year in New Jersey and would likely fall short of the dire conditions the state faced in April, based on outbreak modeling as cases continue to climb, Persichilli said last week.
But that’s only if residents adhere to wearing masks and social distancing, she cautioned.
If not, the next peak could top the first wave.
“We expect a peak at the end of the year, and a very busy January and February,” she said.