VIRUS UPDATE: ‘FLATTENING’ SIGNS SEEN

murphy mask 040720 1Governor Phil Murphy removes a protective mask at the start of his daily crisis briefing Tuesday. (YouTube screengrab. Click to enlarge.)

[See UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicAfter a two-day lull, the deaths of another 232 New Jersey residents have been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

At the same time, recent data suggest a possible “flattening” of new coronavirus cases, he said.

red bank mulholland 031820.jpgThe view through a patient’s windshield outside Integrated Medicine Alliance in Red Bank on March 18. The office reported a “significant” drop in COVID-19 visits Tuesday. (Reader photo. Click to enlarge.)

The state’s loss of life grew to an “almost unfathomable” total of 1,232, Murphy said at his daily crisis briefing.

Though the latest increase was the largest reported so far, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli cautioned that the figure includes an unknown number of deaths that occurred over the weekend but were not immediately reported to the state.

The recent average, she said, appears to be about 130 deaths per day. The previous high number of deaths was 200, disclosed Saturday. That was followed by reports of 71 deaths and 86 deaths Sunday and Monday, respectively.

Monmouth County accounted for nine of the latest deaths, following eight over the preceding two days, the state reported on its COVID-19 web page.

Another 3,361 state residents tested positive, bringing the total to 44,416, the state reported. That was the smallest increase since April 2, and the fourth consecutive day of declines.

“The testing numbers are beginning to look like there’s a trend” of leveling out, Murphy said.

Still, he and Persichilli again spoke about the state’s efforts to prepare for a surge of illnesses hitting the healthcare system.

“The curve may be finally flattening, but we cannot be happy with reaching a plateau,” Murphy said. “The numbers are down, but they’re still way above the capacity we have in our healthcare system,” he said.

Persichilli said that while 80 to 85 percent of those testing positive may have mild-to-moderate illnesses, the rest may need hospitalization, with up to 5 percent needing intensive care.

Of a current 7,017 people currently hospitalized, 1,651 are in critical care, and 1,540 of those patients are on ventilators, Persichilli said.

The state’s efforts include seeking to double the state’s existing inventory of 2,000 ICU beds while dramatically increasing the number of life-saving ventilators, administration officials have said.

The number testing negative despite apparent symptoms rose by 3,281, to 47,942,  to 50,558, up 2,616, the health department reported.

Sixty percent of those testing positive were white; 24 percent black of African-American; 5 percent Asian; and 11 percent of other races, Persichilli said.

Related:

• Murphy ordered the closure of all state and county parks and forests because too many people were clustering in them, contrary to his March 21 “stay home” order, he said.

He left it to municipalities to decide whether to keep theirs open.

• He also signed an executive order waiving 2019-2020 school year assessment requirements for eighth- and twelfth-grade students.

In response to a question about whether high school graduations would be postponed, Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet said that is “a local decision.”

But “I wouldn’t be putting any checks down now on celebrations,” Murphy said. “I hope I’m wrong.”

• Murphy called out Bill Duerr and his company, Hatteras Press, of Tinton Falls, for producing and donating 7,000 face shields for frontline healthcare workers. Duerr has pledged to make 10,000 more per day over the next two weeks, Murphy said.

• Dr. Brendan Mulholland, a physician and principal in Red Bank-based Integrated Medicine Alliance, also reported early Tuesday that his staff has now seen three days in a row of “a significant drop off in visits at our daily COVID-19 clinic.”

He said the growth in the number of testing facilities was a factor.

“However, there is no doubt that the social distancing is working and the curve is flattening,” he wrote in an announcement. “This may not be reflective yet in hospitalizations, but their data will certainly lag behind what’s happening out in the community.”

UPDATE: Late Tuesday evening, Monmouth County officials announced that 2,800 county residents have now tested positive for the coronavirus, a one-day increase of 323. Here are the town-by-town counts:

  • Aberdeen: 78
  • Allenhurst: 1
  • Allentown: 1
  • Asbury Park: 55
  • Atlantic Highlands: 10
  • Avon-by-the-Sea: 8
  • Belmar: 4
  • Bradley Beach: 11
  • Brielle: 17
  • Colts Neck: 38
  • Deal: 19
  • Eatontown: 77
  • Englishtown: 11
  • Fair Haven: 15, unchanged from Monday
  • Farmingdale: 10
  • Freehold Borough: 68
  • Freehold Township: 196
  • Hazlet: 105
  • Highlands: 10
  • Holmdel: 93
  • Howell: 240
  • Keansburg: 40
  • Keyport: 30
  • Lake Como: 6
  • Little Silver: 24, up 3
  • Loch Arbour: 1
  • Long Branch: 139
  • Manalapan: 237
  • Manasquan: 20
  • Marlboro: 219
  • Matawan: 63
  • Middletown: 247
  • Millstone: 33
  • Monmouth Beach: 11
  • Neptune City: 11
  • Neptune Township: 145
  • Ocean: 123
  • Oceanport: 30
  • Red Bank: 58, up 9
  • Roosevelt: 2
  • Rumson: 23
  • Sea Bright: 7
  • Sea Girt: 8
  • Shrewsbury Borough: 20
  • Shrewsbury Township: 3
  • Spring Lake: 6
  • Spring Lake Heights: 10
  • Tinton Falls: 48
  • Union Beach: 16
  • Upper Freehold: 21
  • Wall: 96
  • West Long Branch: 30
  • Unknown: 3

Monmouth County news update