VIRUS UPDATE: DEATH & INFECTION TOTALS UP

red bank surf taco 040820A masked woman leaving Surf Taco on Broad Street in Red Bank with a takeout order Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[See CORRECTION and UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicThe grim roster of COVID-19 deaths continued to grow as the Murphy Administration braced for a possible “surge” of hospitalizations, officials said Thursday.

More than 14,400 new patients could hit the healthcare system “over the next two to three days,” double the number currently hospitalized, said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, citing a continually-updated projection.

The state’s death toll in the pandemic rose by 198, to 1,700 after adjustments, since Wednesday’s daily briefing on the crisis, said Governor Phil Murphy.

Another 12 Monmouth County resident deaths were reported Thursday, driving the total to 98, the state reported on its COVID-19 web page. [CORRECTION: This article originally mistakenly reported 33 new deaths.]

The administration also added a new data point to crisis-monitoring: day-before hospital discharges of COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, that number was 471.

At the same time, 7,363 residents remained hospitalized, with 1,523 of them in intensive care (also known as critical care). And for the first time, more patients – 1,551 – were hooked up to lifesaving ventilators than were in beds normally reserved for critical care, Persichilli said.

“The amount of people coming into hospitals who immediately need pulmonary care is what I’ve never seen,” said Persichilli, a former nurse and hospital CEO.

According to one projection, the state could see a surge of 14,400 hospitalizations in the next two or three days, Persichilli said. Of those, 2,880 more patients may need critical care, she said.

“We know that in a surge, we may need 4,000 to 5,000 critical care beds and ventilators,” she said. She said hospitals statewide had doubled their normal inventory of 2,000 critical care beds.

State Police Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan said 360 more ventilators are to be delivered to healthcare facilities in the next two days.

The healthcare workforce, however, is “dwindling” due to staff illness or self-quarantine, Persichilli said. Three northern New Jersey hospitals were on patient-divert status Wednesday night, “mostly because of workforce issues,” she said.

Statewide, the number of residents testing positive for the coronavirus grew by 3,748, ending a three-day stretch in which the growth rate slowed.

Still, Murphy and Persichilli pointed to encouraging signs. The rate at which cases are doubling is now up to 28.8 days, up from 14.6 days Wednesday and 12.4 days Tuesday, Persichilli said.

Related:

• Again addressing blowback from his decision Tuesday to close all state and county parks while allowing municipalities to decide regarding their parks, Murphy said it was based on “an enormous amount of gatherings at close proximity” observed by state parks workers.

In addition, they’ve noted “an uncomfortable number of out-of-state license plates” in parking lots at the parks, he said.

“It’s not a life sentence,” Murphy said of the prohibition. “It’s not going to last forever.”

• Murphy also signed an executive order extending the grace period for residents who can’t pay their insurance premiums because of COVID-19-related financial hardships.

The order imposes a minimum 60-day grace period for health and dental insurance policies, and 90 days for home and auto insurance, renters insurance, life insurance, insurance premium-financing arrangements. All claims covered by the insurance policy must be paid out to those who are within these grace periods, the state reported.

UPDATE: Monmouth County officials reported a total of 3,252 COVID-19 cases Thursday, up XX from Wednesday. Here’s the breakdown by town:

  • Aberdeen: 99
  • Allenhurst: 2
  • Allentown: 1
  • Asbury Park: 56
  • Atlantic Highlands: 12
  • Avon-by-the-Sea: 9
  • Belmar: 4
  • Bradley Beach: 13
  • Brielle: 19
  • Colts Neck: 43
  • Deal: 21
  • Eatontown: 90
  • Englishtown: 10
  • Fair Haven: 15, unchanged from Wednesday
  • Farmingdale: 9
  • Freehold Borough: 92
  • Freehold Township: 258
  • Hazlet: 124
  • Highlands: 12
  • Holmdel: 105
  • Howell: 294
  • Interlaken: 1
  • Keansburg: 48
  • Keyport: 35
  • Lake Como: 8
  • Little Silver: 24, unchanged
  • Loch Arbour: 1
  • Long Branch: 163
  • Manalapan: 261
  • Manasquan: 20
  • Marlboro: 247
  • Matawan: 77
  • Middletown: 265
  • Millstone: 38
  • Monmouth Beach: 14
  • Neptune City: 17
  • Neptune Township: 175
  • Ocean: 145
  • Oceanport: 37
  • Red Bank: 60, unchanged
  • Roosevelt: 2
  • Rumson: 23
  • Sea Bright: 8
  • Sea Girt: 8
  • Shrewsbury Borough: 21
  • Shrewsbury Township: 4
  • Spring Lake: 6
  • Spring Lake Heights: 12
  • Tinton Falls: 56
  • Union Beach: 16
  • Upper Freehold: 23
  • Wall: 105
  • West Long Branch: 39
  • Unknown: 5