VIRUS UPDATE: DEATH TOLL RISES TO 108

[See UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicNew Jersey’s death toll the in the COVID-19 pandemic crossed into the triple digits as families lost 27 more loved ones, Governor Phil Murphy said in his daily briefing Friday.

The death toll in the Garden State rose to 108, and included three new fatalities in Monmouth County, said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

The number of COVID-19-positive cases statewide rose by 1,982, to 8,825, including 126 more in Monmouth County, she said.

That put the county’s total at 634 cases. [UPDATE: Shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, Monmouth County freeholders announced there were 647 positive cases of COVID-19 in the county. Specific locations were not disclosed. See note below.]

The latest results included an unspecified number from tests taken up to seven days ago, before Murphy mandated social-distancing measures through an unprecedented executive order issued Saturday, March 21.

Persichilli said that of those who’ve tested positive, 1,080 were in hospital beds as of Thursday afternoon.

• “This is not the time for pickup game of basketball,” Murphy said., underscoring his call for social distancing, even among those going outdoors for fresh air.

• “More than a few businesses,” including warehouse operators, are not practicing social-distancing of workers, Murphy said. Retailers will be given additional guidelines, he said.

• Google will donate advertising to the state to help it get information about the pandemic through its search index, Murphy said.

• Murphy said he has been speaking to officials at mortgage-lending companies and would have news about payments at Saturday’s briefing, scheduled for 1 p.m. and to be carried live on YouTube.

NOTE: Monmouth County officials have temporarily halted reporting coronavirus case totals by town. A statement attributed to Freeholder Tom Arnone and sent to redbankgreen Friday in response to inquiries about the cessation said:

“In response to concerns and requests, the County has made the decision to reassign and train additional staff to be able to provide a town by town breakdown of COVID-19 cases on a daily basis.

It is anticipated that the staff can be reassigned, trained and CDRSS system-certified [[Communicable Disease Reporting and Surveillance System] by Thursday of next week.

In the meantime, on Monday, the Monmouth County Health Department will continue to provide the most accurate and up to date numbers available to each town as the current process allows.”