VIRUS UPDATE: STATE DEATH TOLL UP SHARPLY

IHME NJ COVID-19 forecast 033120A hospital use projection for New Jersey by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows an anticipated surge in the first half of April. Projections assume continued social distancing and other protective measures. To view the methods used to produce the projection, click here. (Graphic by IHME. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

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Sixty-nine New Jerseyans died Monday as the global COVID-19 contagion continued its tear through the state, Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

Of 267 resident deaths so far in the crisis, 223 have occurred in the last seven days, with the toll accelerating sharply from Monday’s report of 37 deaths.

red bank mohawk pond 2017A fisherman goes for trout at Mohawk Pond in Red Bank in 2017. State officials have moved up the start of the trout season to encourage outdoor activity, they said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

A breakdown of the death toll by county was not provided at Murphy’s daily briefing. Separately, Monmouth County officials told redbankgreen 13 county residents have died from the virus.

Meantime, 2,196 victims were added to the roster of those testing positive for the coronavirus, bringing that total to 18,696, Murphy said.

Ninety-nine of the new positive patients were Monmouth County residents, who now total 1,140, the state reported on a Health Department website.

Monmouth County freeholders reported 1,163 positive cases in the county Tuesday. Among them were 12 patients in Fair Haven, 15 in Little Silver and 22 Red Bank.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said 55 percent of those who have died in the pandemic were male. Victims above the age of 79 accounted for 47 percent of deaths, and 19 percent were associated with longterm care facilities, she said.

Of more than 44,000 tests administered statewide to residents showing infection symptoms, 38.9 percent have been positive, Persichilli said, up slightly from Sunday’s positive rate of 38.2 percent.

The results include an unknown number of tests administered seven to ten days earlier, “given how jammed up the testing facilities are,” she noted.

The Murphy administration’s plan to absorb an anticipated surge in illnesses calls for doubling the number of intensive care beds, boosting the number of other hospital beds and bringing in thousands of ventilators and pieces of personal protective equipment, its officials have said.

Toward that end, the state is preparing to open field hospitals, reopen closed health facilities, and even use dormitories and hotel rooms to house patients, if needed, Persichili has said.

The plan assumes that 31 percent of the state’s residents are now practicing social distancing, “based on historical pandemics,” Murphy said.

At that level, under the administration’s capacity expansion plan, “we believe we will be able to handle the” the anticipated influx, Persichilli said.

“We want to plan for what we think is the worst case and hope for the best,” she said.

Meantime, officials are hoping to boost social-distancing compliance to 44 percent, the level at which “our capacity as we currently know it would be fine,” she said.

That’s why he continues to pound a “stay home” message, Murphy said.

“We’ve got to get on top of that curve, sit on it and drive that sucker down,” he said.

Related:

• COVID-19-positive case totals in other nearby towns: Middletown, 112; Rumson, 17;  Shrewsbury, 14; and Tinton Falls, 20.

• Responding to a reporter’s question about the number of patients who have recovered from the virus, medical director Dr. Ed Lifshitz said the state does not yet have reliable data.

• State wildlife officials have moved up the start of the trout season by 10 days, to April 1, to encourage residents to get outdoors while still maintaining six-foot separations from others.

Among the waterways annually stocked with farm-raised trout is Red Bank’s Mohawk Pond. More information is available here.