COVID-19: State officials concerned with rising transmission rate
BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
The COVID-19 transmission rate in New Jersey is on the rise and officials are concerned. The rate of transmission from a COVID-positive person has risen to 1.03, which means that every COVID-infected person is infecting more than one other person on average, Gov. Phil Murphy said today, Monday, July 6.
The rate has been steadily increasing: on Friday, July 3, the rate of transmission was 0.87 and on June 15 it was 0.70.
In addition, officials say, two incidents of New Jerseyans traveling to states considered “hotspots” for the virus are responsible for transmitting the virus here; in Hoboken, 13 people aged 20-25 who traveled to states such as Florida and Texas have tested positive after returning; and Sussex and Warren County residents who attended a wedding in Myrtle Beach, S.C., have contracted the virus. Murphy gave credit to Hoboken's contact tracers in helping to contain the spread.
Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli both urged 14-day quarantining and testing after returning from a hotspot state. Those states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Persichilli said local health departments can offer places to self quarantine for residents who are in need.
Murphy is also pushing for a national masking effort as states are reporting spikes of cases. A mandat he says would be hard to enforce.
“We were the first in the nation to require mandatory masking while indoors. While outdoors is safer, I would like to see more masks outdoors,” said Murphy.
The increase in the rate of transmission could be caused by a combination of New Jersey entering stage two of its reopening, and travelers from hotspot states.
Last week, Murphy pulled back on allowing restaurants to reopen indoor dining after states that had reopened indoor dining saw high increases in the spread of the virus.
“We won't be jumping the gun on opening. We are staying where we are for now. You are indoors, there’s ventilation at issue, you are in close proximity, you are sedentary, and by definition you have to take off this [mask] in order to eat or drink,” he said.
New Jersey officials reported 216 new cases on Monday, down from the 529 reported on Thursday, July 2, during the state’s most recent briefing. The state total of COVID-confirmed cases is now at 172,611.
The number of new deaths went down today, at 20 compared to the 27 reported on Thursday. The state death toll is now at 15,229, with 13,373 deaths confirmed to be caused by COVID-19, and another 1,856 probable deaths from the virus, which increased by two over the weekend.
While the rate of transmission rose, state health officials reported a lower positivity rate of 2.14 percent for tests conducted on July 2, compared to Thursday's 2.95 percent. The southern part of the state, however, is seeing a 5.38 percent positivity rate.
Hospitals saw a decrease in the numbers of patients over the weekend with 861 reported as of last night, compared to 1,027 on Wednesday night. The number of patients in the ICU and on ventilators has declined, with 187 in ICU and 152 on ventilators compared to 216 patients in ICU and 170 ventilators in use on Wednesday.
Wednesday saw 51 new hospital admittances and 83 discharges, compared to 54 new patients and 87 charges on Tuesday.
State health officials reported seven new cases compared to the 61 new cases reported by the county on Thursday, bringing the county total to 18,895. The state is reporting a total of 2,041 deaths both confirmed and probable as of today, July 6. On Thursday, the number of confirmed deaths was at 1,786.
The county’s fatality rate from the virus is now at 9.5 percent, compared to the state’s average at 7.7 percent.
Montclair’s Health Department reported today, July 6, an increase of eight new positive cases of COVID-19 since Friday, July 1. The total number of residents to test positive is now 455, while the number of individuals who did not survive the illness remains at 52.
Debriefings will now only be held Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Murphy said today.