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N.J. reports 447 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths as transmission rate holds steady again

New Jersey officials on Wednesday reported nine more deaths attributed to the coronavirus and 447 additional positive tests, as the state’s rate of transmission was the same for the fourth straight day, just above the key mark that indicates the outbreak here is expanding.

Officials also continued to warn about rising cases among younger residents, emphasizing that people should avoid house parties and other large indoor gatherings.

“We’re not remotely close — and I don’t know when we’ll get there — to packed congregating around a bar,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton. “What makes people think a house party is any different than that? We need to avoid that like the plague.”

Meanwhile, Murphy chastised a group of YouTube pranksters for an appearance Monday in Seaside Heights that drew large, maskless crowds. He called the event by the Nelk Boys the “most extreme” and “egregious display of knucklehead behavior” the Garden State has seen during the pandemic.

“Even as we have seen the numbers of deaths head into the low single-digits each day, we cannot let up,” the governor said. “No one is expendable. And this is why we cannot excuse — in any way — the irresponsible and reckless behavior we saw Monday night in Seaside Heights.”

Seven of the state’s nine newly reported deaths happened in the past four days, while the rest occurred earlier and were just recently confirmed, Murphy said. Three of the deaths were of either residents or staff members of longterm care facilities, officials said.

Wednesday marked the second straight day the state reported more than 400 new cases.

New Jersey, an early coronavirus hotspot, has had 197,792 COVID-19 cases out of more than 3.23 million tests administered in the more than six months since the outbreak here started in early March. That’s the eighth most among U.S. states.

The state of 9 million people has reported 16,054 deaths related to the virus — 14,263 lab-confirmed and 1,791 considered probable — in that time. That’s the second most in the U.S. after New York. New Jersey has the nation’s highest COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 residents.

The state’s total probable deaths, which is revised weekly, increase by two Wednesday.

More than 34,400 residents in the state have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, though that number is likely much higher.

New Jersey has seen its daily numbers drop significantly since April, when officials were routinely announcing hundreds of new deaths and thousands of new cases a day. The deadliest day came on April 13, when the state reported 413 death — 341 confirmed and 72 probable.

The Garden State has seen new deaths hover around 10 and new cases in the 300s or 400s over the last few weeks as businesses continue to gradually reopen.

Murphy has repeatedly said in recent weeks New Jersey’s numbers have improved, but he stresses that the virus “ebbs and flows” and the state is not yet “out of the woods.”

TRANSMISSION RATE

New Jersey’s latest rate of transmission of 1.06 is the same as officials reported Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. It has been above 1 since Sept. 4.

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 is decreasing.

The state’s latest daily positivity rate — the percentage of residents who test positive in a single day — was 2.06% on Sept. 12. That means a little less than 98% of residents tested that day were negative.

N.J. rate of transmission

New Jersey’s rate of transmission remained at 1.06 for the fourth straight day, just above the key benchmark of 1.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

There were 462 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals Tuesday night. That’s 56 more patients than the night before.

Of those, 226 tested positive for the virus, while 236 were under investigation while awaiting test results. Many of of the people under investigation for the virus turn out to be negative, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Wednesday.

Tuesday’s hospitalizations include 100 patients in critical or intensive care (10 more than the day before) with 38 on ventilators (three more than the day before).

There were 30 coronavirus patients discharged Tuesday, according to the state’s coronavirus tracking website.

New Jersey’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped dramatically since the state’s peak in mid-April, when there were more than 8,000 patients.

COUNTY-BY-COUNTY CASES

  • Atlantic County: 3,920 positive tests (8 new), 244 confirmed deaths (11 probable)
  • Bergen County: 22,030 positive tests (36 new), 1,800 confirmed deaths (243 probable)
  • Burlington County: 6,801 positive tests (24 new), 451 confirmed deaths (39 probable)
  • Camden County: 9,563 positive tests (33 new), 550 confirmed deaths (53 probable)
  • Cape May County: 981 positive tests (2 new), 87 confirmed deaths (8 probable)
  • Cumberland County: 3,702 positive tests (3 new), 149 confirmed deaths (8 probable)
  • Essex County: 20,723 positive tests (31 new), 1,895 confirmed deaths (229 probable)
  • Gloucester County: 4,178 positive tests (21 new), 217 confirmed deaths (7 probable)
  • Hudson County: 20,422 positive tests (21 new), 1,353 confirmed deaths (160 probable)
  • Hunterdon County: 1,273 positive tests (8 new), 71 confirmed deaths (54 probable)
  • Mercer County: 8,526 positive tests (15 new), 598 confirmed deaths (36 probable)
  • Middlesex County: 18,931 positive tests (26 new), 1,222 confirmed deaths (202 probable)
  • Monmouth County: 11,287 positive tests (23 new), 772 confirmed deaths (92 probable)
  • Morris County: 7,674 positive tests (12 new), 686 confirmed deaths (145 probable)
  • Ocean County: 11,897 positive tests (78 new), 974 confirmed deaths (65 probable)
  • Passaic County: 18,719 positive tests (34 new), 1,108 confirmed deaths (143 probable)
  • Salem County: 1,028 positive tests (7 new), 83 confirmed deaths (6 probable)
  • Somerset County: 5,611 positive tests (19 new), 494 confirmed deaths (74 probable)
  • Sussex County: 1,429 positive tests (1 new), 161 confirmed deaths (37 probable)
  • Union County: 17,355 positive tests (22 new), 1,190 confirmed deaths (166 probable)
  • Warren County: 1,422 positive tests (0 new), 158 confirmed deaths (13 probable)

There are another 320 positive cases that remain under investigation, with the patients’ home counties not confirmed.

MORE CONCERN ABOUT YOUNGER RESIDENTS

Residents aged 19 to 24 now have the state’s highest positivity rate, at 7.1%, while the second-highest is residents aged 14 to 18, at 7%, Persichilli said Wednesday. That’s up from 2.7% and 4% in mid-August, respectively, she said.

The numbers mean about 7% of people from those age groups who get tested for COVID-19 test positive.

Officials have said a major reason for the increase is not only students returning to college but young people attending parties and social gatherings.

While symptoms are generally milder among younger people, Persichilli said, there are some severe cases and deaths. Plus, she stressed, younger people can pass the virus to older, more vulnerable people.

“With schools and colleges reopening, this is just a reminder: Please take this virus seriously,” Persichilli said. “Now is not the time for indoor gatherings.”

The increases also come as K-12 students return to classes, with a number of New Jersey schools having either in-person or a mix of in-person and remote learning. Plus, gyms and indoor dining have reopened with restrictions in recent weeks.

But officials said there is so far no evidence of COVID-19 cases being transmitted inside classrooms. And Murphy said he’s “not hearing of bad behavior” at places like gyms, restaurants, and movie theaters.

Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents that have caught the virus (31.1%), followed by those 50-64 (26.7%), 18-29 (15.8%), 65-79 (13.4%), 80 and older (9.3%), 5-17 (2.9%), and 0-4 (0.6%).

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 of residents 80 and older (47.1%), followed by those 65-79 (32.3%), 50-64 (15.9%), 30-49 (4.3%), 18-25 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%), and 0-4 (0%).

At least 7,138 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been of residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

Several school districts in New Jersey have been forced to change plans for in-person classes because students or staff have tested positive for COVID-19. But Murphy said Tuesday he does not foresee having to close all schools and implement universal remote learning like he did the last academic year.

State officials care calling for residents to get flu shots to help avoid a possible “twin-demic” in the fall.

In addition, New Jersey is still calling on travelers from 30 states and territories that qualify as hotspots to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving. That includes residents returning home from a trip.

The number of deaths in New Jersey related to COVID-19 could surpass the 16,200 annual deaths from cancer the state has averaged — which would make the virus the state’s No. 2 killer, after heart disease, according to mortality data from the state Department of Health.

New Jersey has begun allowing some of the businesses listed in Stage 3 of its recovery plan to reopen. Murphy has said he could tighten guidelines if there are sustained increases or if businesses and patrons don’t comply with the rules.

The virus has taken a major toll on the state’s economy. More than 1.56 million residents have filed for unemployment, businesses have lost untold revenue, and numerous businesses have closed permanently.

GLOBAL NUMBERS

As of early Wednesday afternoon, there have been more than 29.62 million positive COVID-19 tests across the globe, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 936,300 people have died, while more than 20.12 million people have recovered.

The United States has the most positive tests in the world at more than 6.6 million, and the most deaths, at more than 196,100.

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Brent Johnson may be reached at [email protected].

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