VIRUS UPDATE: MORE PROGRESS REPORTED

nj ventilators 042520.jpegA crushing need for ventilators envisioned earlier this month under a possible worst-case scenario has not occurred, and demand has begun to ease, officials said. (Source: COVID19.nj.gov. Click to enlarge.)

[See UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

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New Jersey officials disclosed another day of encouraging data in the war on COVID-19 Saturday.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about a worst-case scenario” of some 36,000 residents needing hospitalization in a short time frame, swamping the healthcare system, Governor Phil Murphy said said at his daily briefing on the pandemic.

Instead, the number of patients hospitalized has been trending downward, and stands at less than one-fifth the worst imagined, administration officials said.

“We’re doing a whole lot better than we were just a few weeks ago,” said Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Edward Lifshitz.

But as he has throughout the crisis, though, Murphy said social distancing measures must still be observed, despite the onset of pleasant spring weather.

“If we let our hair down right now, we’d probably see it,” he said of the dire forecast.

The state health department’s COVID-19 online database reported an additional 249 deaths since Friday’s update, for a total 5,863.

They included 14 more in Monmouth County, where the death toll stands at 287, the site showed.

Locally, that included 51 cases and 6 deaths at the Hackensack Meridian at Red Bank nursing facility (formerly Chapin Hill, on Chapin Avenue); and 11 cases and 4 deaths of residents at Red Bank’s Atrium at Navesink Harbor, on Riverside Avenue. The dates of the deaths were not disclosed.

Here are the latest statewide COVID-19 figures:

Deaths since March 10: 5,863, up 249 from Friday’s update

Positive tests: 105,523, up 3,457

Patients in hospitals: 6,722, down 125

Patients in intensive/critical care: 1,971 up 38

Patients on ventilators: 1,440, down 47

Patients discharged in preceding 24 hours: 686, up 92

Murphy said the state has now seen three days in which discharges exceeded new hospital admissions.

In addition, state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said new patients are appearing “at a time where the hospitals can intervene at earlier stage of their disease.”

Moreover, frontline healthcare workers have learned from recent experience “better ways to care” for COVID-19 patients, she said.

The once steeply rising curve of new cases appears to have been flattened, “which is exactly what we wanted it to do to be able to handle the capacity through our hospitals,” Persichilli said.

She said the administration officials “expect to be seeing cases through May.”

Murphy said that the briefing planned for Monday, he intends to lay out the “broad parameters” under which an end to the near lockdowns of society he ordered starting March 21 might begin to be lifted.

Meantime, “we cannot let a beautiful spring day like this allow us to slip in any way on our social distancing,” Murphy said. “We have to keep at it.”

[UPDATE] Monmouth County reported 5,559 confirmed cases as of Saturday night. Below is a by-town breakdown of cases:

  • Aberdeen: 175
  • Allenhurst: 3
  • Allentown: 5
  • Asbury Park: 116
  • Atlantic Highlands: 21
  • Avon-by-the-Sea: 10
  • Belmar: 14
  • Bradley Beach: 27
  • Brielle: 23
  • Colts Neck: 57
  • Deal: 23
  • Eatontown: 169
  • Englishtown: 28
  • Fair Haven: 21, unchanged from Friday
  • Farmingdale: 13
  • Freehold Borough: 249
  • Freehold Township: 494
  • Hazlet: 215
  • Highlands: 21
  • Holmdel: 170
  • Howell: 456
  • Interlaken: 1
  • Keansburg: 103
  • Keyport: 67
  • Lake Como: 14
  • Little Silver: 33, up 2
  • Long Branch: 325
  • Manalapan: 398
  • Manasquan: 26
  • Marlboro: 361
  • Matawan: 130
  • Middletown: 402
  • Millstone: 65
  • Monmouth Beach: 17
  • Neptune City: 35
  • Neptune Township: 301
  • Ocean: 215
  • Oceanport: 48
  • Red Bank: 125, up 4
  • Roosevelt: 3
  • Rumson: 29
  • Sea Bright: 9
  • Sea Girt: 10
  • Shrewsbury Borough: 37
  • Shrewsbury Township: 8
  • Spring Lake: 13
  • Spring Lake Heights: 17
  • Tinton Falls: 131
  • Union Beach: 34
  • Upper Freehold: 38
  • Wall: 195
  • West Long Branch: 55
  • Unknown: 3