VIRUS UPDATE: ILLNESS, DEATH COUNTS SOAR

Normally bustling, downtown Red Bank was people-free and quiet at 9 p.m. Friday under the governor’s week-old “stay-home” order. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicThirty-two more New Jersey residents died as the the COVID-19 contagion tightened its grip on the state, Governor Phil Murphy said Saturday.

With the state’s death toll now at 140, the pandemic “is a pass/fail test,” Murphy said at his daily pandemic briefing on the crisis. “This is life or death.”

The death toll across the state rose by 32, said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. No new fatalities were recorded in Monmouth County, she said.

The number of COVID-19-positive cases statewide soared by 2,289, to 11,124, including 122 new cases in Monmouth.

On Friday, Monmouth County freeholders announced there were 647 positive cases of COVID-19 in the county. Specific locations were not disclosed.

Persichilli said the latest to die ranged in age from 30 to 100 years old. None were associated with longterm care facilities. Twelve are believed to have had underlying health conditions which may have contributed to their deaths, she said.

In other COVID-19 news from the briefing:

• Murphy also announced a 90-day moratorium on home mortgage payments under an agreement with a coalition of national and state-chartered mortgage lenders. No penalties or credit downgrades will be imposed on creditors, he said.

Combined with a hold on evictions barred by an earlier executive order, many residents “can breathe easier” about their housing status, he said.

• The state also received an overnight shipment of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers from a federal stockpile, said State Police Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan. That included 121,000 N95 masks, he said.

•  Murphy said police in Ewing, in Mercer County, had broken up a DJ’d party that drew some 47 attendees to a 550-square-foot apartment.