New Jersey’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has risen to at least 6,442 residents as state officials reported another 402 fatalities Tuesday and residents prepare for more weeks of near-lockdown restrictions that have already lasted more than a month.
In all, the Garden State — one of the nation’s coronavirus hotspots — has reported at least 113,856 cases of COVID-19 among its 9 million residents after officials reported another 2,887 on Tuesday.
The 402 new deaths are the most officials have announced in a single day — though Gov. Phil Murphy noted all of fatalities and cases announced Tuesday did not occur in the past day and that weekend lags in reporting may inflate those numbers.
“This is not necessarily a one-day total of 402,” Murphy said during his daily coronavirus press briefing in Trenton. “We expected that more deaths which occurred over the weekend just had yet to be counted.”
Regardless, New Jersey continues to have the second-most deaths and cases among American states — after neighboring New York — as well as a vast economic fallout from the virus.
Despite the growing numbers, officials have stressed that hospitalizations from the virus continue to drop and that the curve of new cases is leveling off.
As of 10 p.m. Monday, there were 6,478 patients in New Jersey’s 71 hospitals with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases, according to the state Department of Health.
That’s up slightly from the day before but still down 22% since a peak of 8,293 cases on April 14. The slight uptick broke a six-day streak of consecutive declines.
“While we are seeing clear progress in some of these metrics, there is one number which always gives us enormous pause,” Murphy said of the death toll.
Tuesday’s numbers came a day after Murphy unveiled a broad road map outlining the benchmarks New Jersey needs to reach before he can begin gradually lifting the orders he installed five weeks ago for residents to stay home and mandating nonessential businesses to close to fight the virus’ spread.
Murphy has not yet provided a timetable for when the restrictions will be lifted, but he reiterated Tuesday that “we know we are still weeks away from being able to announce the first businesses openings.”
The governor said the goal is to increase social distancing to save lives and not only “bend the curve” of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations but “keep it going down.”
“That bend is happening, but we need to see that literally going down and nosediving,” Murphy added.
Dozens of protestors gathered in Trenton on Tuesday to pressure Murphy to lift the restrictions. They chanted: “Open Jersey now!”
Murphy has said officials first need to see a 14-day trend showing drops in numbers, as well as double testing capacity and institute robust contact tracing and plans to isolate the infected.
“Quite simply, people will not want to go out and be participating members in our economy if they are fearful we have not done all that we can to protect them from COVID-19,” he said.
“But our economy is goin to get a restart,” the governor added. “It is not a matter of if. It is a matter of when.”
More than 210,000 New Jersey residents have been tested for coronavirus, and 120,503 have tested negative, officials said. The positivity rate is 42.8%.
The county-by-county breakdown of cases and deaths includes:
- Bergen County: 15,251 with 1,002 deaths
- Hudson County: 14,309 with 722 deaths
- Essex County: 13,190 with 1,090 deaths
- Union County: 12,188 with 627 deaths
- Passaic County: 11,755 with 475 deaths
- Middlesex County: 11,102 with 515 deaths
- Ocean County: 6,151 with 342 deaths
- Monmouth County: 5,826 with 305 deaths
- Morris County: 5,128 with 377 deaths
- Mercer County: 3,605 with 212 deaths
- Camden County: 3,285 with 124 deaths
- Somerset County: 3,278 with 242 deaths
- Burlington County: 2,543 with 106 deaths
- Gloucester County: 1,179 with 38 deaths
- Sussex County: 882 with 97 deaths
- Atlantic County: 868 with 35 deaths
- Warren County: 848 with 71 deaths
- Cumberland County: 659 with 10 deaths
- Hunterdon County: 573 with 24 deaths
- Cape May County: 299 with 20 deaths
- Salem County: 219 with 8 deaths
There are another 718 cases still under review to determine where the person resides.
The total number of cases in the state is cumulative and does not include the likely thousands of people who have recovered from COVID-19, officials said.
It is also difficult to get a complete picture of how much the virus has spread because state-run sites are testing only symptomatic residents, testing is backlogged, and the state is not yet reporting significant daily increases in testing.
But Murphy and health officials have said the number of hospitalizations and deaths are clear barometers for how the state is managing the pandemic.
As of Monday at 10 p.m., 1,809 coronavirus patients hospitalized in New Jersey were in critical care — similar to the day before, officials said. Meanwhile, 1262 of those patients were on ventilators, which Murphy said “continues to trend downward.”
Between 10 p.m. Sunday and the same time Monday, there were 488 new coronavirus patients hospitalized in the state, officials said.. There were also 419 patients discharged — though that number includes deaths.
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the hospitalization count statewide is “flattening.” But she noted Central Jersey hospitals reported Monday night their intensive care beds “are totally full.” Plus, Persichilli said, officials are seeing hospitalizations increase in South Jersey.
Meanwhile, the virus continues to hit the state’s longterm care facilities — including nursing homes and veteran homes — hard. As of Tuesday, there were 17,201 positive cases across 484 longterm care facilities in the state, with 2,051 confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19 and another 1,060 deaths suspected of it.
For the deaths that New Jersey officials have data, the racial breakdown includes:
- White 52.4%
- Black 20.3%
- Hispanic 16.7%
- Other 5.3%
- Asian 5.2%
The breakdown by age includes:
- 24 deaths aged 18-29
- 229 deaths aged 30-49
- 838 deaths aged 50-64
- 1,669 deaths aged 65 to 79
- 2,303 deaths aged 80 and older
The state’s economy continues to suffer during the outbreak, with a record number of people — more than 850,000 — having filed for unemployment since aggressive social distancing began. Meanwhile, Murphy has warned that there could be historic public-worker layoffs if the state and local governments don’t get more federal aid.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 3 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 across the globe, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. Of those, more than 212,000 have died and more than 906,000 have recovered.
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Brent Johnson may be reached at [email protected].