COVID-19: No normal gatherings “for foreseeable future,” Murphy says
Gov. Phil Murphy addresses a press briefing on Wednesday, April 15.
By ERIN ROLL
New Jersey is nowhere near ready to let up on social distancing because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday, April 15.
The state was making progress with flattening the curve, but Murphy warned that if people let their guard down, particularly with warmer weather coming, the number of cases could go back up again.
And when the outbreak is over, Murphy said things won’t necessarily return to the way they were.
“The notion that we’re just going to turn the clock back to three months ago - I don’t see that happening,” he said. "I don’t see a normal gathering for the foreseeable future.”
The state reported 2,625 new positive cases on Wednesday - down from the 4,059 new cases reported on Tuesday - to bring the state's total to 71,030.
But the death toll continued to mount, with 351 more deaths announced Wednesday, down only slightly from Tuesday's reported number of 365. In total, 3,156 New Jerseyans have died as a result of the novel coronavirus. Fifty-five of the deaths reported on Wednesday were associated with long-term care facilities.
Murphy noted that Rutgers has been working on a rapid saliva test, which has been approved by the FDA.
In response to reports that New Jersey had seen the largest single-day increases in cases and deaths, Murphy said he wanted to put some of the numbers into context.
Murphy reiterated that on a given day, the number of deaths reported did not all occur within the past 24 hours. Some of those deaths may have occurred several days before, and were only then being counted as COVID-19 deaths. Some of the deaths being reported on Wednesday occurred over Easter weekend, he said.
As of Wednesday evening, Montclair was reporting 16 new cases and one additional death, with those totals rising to 279 cases and 29 deaths in total.
The township has announced 60 cases and seven deaths since last Wednesday, April 8.
There were varying estimates, including from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and from researchers at Harvard, as to how long social distancing would have to continue, with some estimates calling for social distancing into next year or even beyond.
Murphy acknowledged that it was difficult to stay home, and that residents were getting anxious and frustrated.
“I promise you, the second we think we can [re-open], we will let you know. Stay home, stay apart, keep your face covered, stay at it, and we’ll beat this damn virus,” Murphy said.
Statewide, there were 8,070 people hospitalized because of the virus as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, down from 8,185 the night before. That is in part due to a rise in discharged patients, 709 announced Wednesday, up from 514 announced a day prior.
The number of patients in critical care has gone down as well, from 2,051 to 1,980, but the number of ventilators in use has gone up, from 1,624 to 1,705.
As of Wednesday, 131,976 tests had been performed, with 58,976 major lab positives, representing a positive rate of 44.6 percent. The total number of negatives was just under 73,000.
Statewide, 358 of the state’s 375 long-term care facilities -- including nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and veterans’ homes -- have reported at least one COVID-19 case, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. There have been a total of 6,815 cases associated with long-term care facilities.
Of the deaths for which demographic data was available, 51.7 percent identified as white, 21.9 percent identified as black or African American; 15.5 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino, 5.7 percent identified as Asian, and 5.2 percent identified as other, Persichilli said.
Bergen County continues to have the highest rate of cases and deaths: 10,848 cases and 506 deaths, up from 10,426 total cases, and 550 deaths on Tuesday: an increase of 422 cases and 44 deaths.
Essex County has the second highest rate of cases and deaths, followed by Hudson, Union, Passaic and Middlesex counties.
As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, Essex County was reporting 8,561 cases and 589 deaths in total, up from 8,181 and 533 deaths as of Tuesday: 56 additional deaths and 380 new cases. Montclair, according to data from Essex County at that time, ranks sixth for number of deaths, behind Newark, West Orange, Irvington, East Orange and Livingston.
The following was reported this morning at 10 a.m. by the county and may not reflect numbers provided today by the state and Montclair: