VIRUS UPDATE: COVID-19 DEATHS UP AGAIN

[See UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicWith the deaths of 17 more New Jersey residents over 24 hours, Governor Phil Murphy “can now give you 44 reasons” in support of unprecedented and wide-ranging restrictions he’s imposed in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, he said Tuesday.

That was the highest single-day statewide tally of fatalities in the global coronavirus pandemic, he said.

The known number of statewide COVID-19 patients rose by 846, to 3,675, from 2,844 Monday, Murphy reported during what’s become a daily briefing on the crisis.

New Jersey’s death toll grew by 17, to 44, said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. One was in Monmouth County, she said.

“We sadly cannot bring that number to zero,” Murphy said. “Sadly, that number will continue to go up.”

Persichilli said nine of the latest deaths were “associated with” long-term care facilities. Nineteen such facilities have reported at least one such facility.

In addition, about 35 percent of cases have been in victims between the ages of 30 and 49 years old, proof that it doesn’t afflict only senior citizens, Persichilli said.

Monmouth County’s tally of virus-infected patients rose 53, to 291, to 238, Persichilli said.

[UPDATE: Tuesday night, the Monmouth County Freeholders put the county’s case total at 307, including 10 in Fair Haven, 12 in Little Silver and five in Red Bank.]

On Saturday, Murphy issued an executive order aimed at slowing the spread of the pandemic, telling all residents “stay at home” unless heading out to work, shop or exercise, and practice social-distancing.

Other takeaways from Tuesday’s briefing:

• Murphy encouraged reporting of employers who violate his order to have all non-essential workers do so from home.

“My order is an order. It is not a polite suggestion,” Murphy said. He encouraged reporting of employers who violate his order to have all non-essential workers do so from home.

• The state Department of Education applied for a federal waiver to cancel all standardized testing of students scheduled for April. The cancelation “won’t impact the graduation requirements of any student,” said Murphy.

He also does not know when schools might reopen, he said.

• Citing behavior by “knuckleheads,” Murphy said Manalapan police charged a man with terroristic threats and harassment for coughing on a woman at a Wegman’s store and telling her he had COVID-19.

• The state has launched an online portal to connect New Jersey residents with jobs in critical industries responding to COVID-19, such as grocery stores, shipping and logistics, healthcare, janitorial services and warehousing. The portal shows more than 12,000 openings and “more are being added every day,” Murphy said.

• More than 12,000 COVID-19 tests have now been administered, yielding about 3,600 positive results, for a rate of 27 percent, which means “the majority of results are negative,” Persichilli said.