A helpful reminder painted on a stone seen outside the CVS pharmacy in Little Silver Monday. (Click to enlarge.)


HOT-TOPIC_03 Governor Phil Murphy unveiled plans to broaden testing and tracing for COVID-19 Tuesday.

The paired approaches, he said, offer New Jersey its “best chance at catching and containing” the illness, which has now claimed more than 9,500 lives, including 15 more in Monmouth County.

New Jersey COVID-19 trends 051220Murphy cited “significant” improvement in key measures of the pandemic. (Image from Click to enlarge.)

At his daily crisis briefing, Murphy said the state was ramping up to provide at least 20,000 COVID-19 tests a day by the end of May, compared to 12,000 per day at the end of April.

As of Tuesday, the state had 135 public and private facilities where testing was available, with more coming, Murphy said. The CVS pharmacy chain plans to open “swab and send” testing operations at 50 stores by the end of the month, he said.

The state will also pay for counties to hire and train 1,000 people in contact tracing, which until now has been largely a local or regional effort managed by health departments to fight communicable diseases, Murphy said. They’ll augment the 800 to 900 tracers already working, mostly at county level, as paid employees or volunteers, he said.

“This process is routinely used in public health to quickly identify vulnerable populations that are at risk, and to ensure that transmission is halted,” said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

Tracers are to be paid $25 per hour, Murphy said. In addition, the state is contracting with a private vendor to manage and centralize a “regional and county-based approach to contact tracing” to be paid for by the state, he said.

The testing and tracing efforts are expected to cost “hundreds of millions” of dollars, an expense to be borne by the state, Murphy said.

The aim of the two efforts, he said, is to move the state closer to reopening its economy without risking a resurgence of the pandemic, Murphy said, adding that he hoped to reveal more specific information later this week about “gently” beginning to lift restrictions.

No one should expect an “on-off” switch to be flipped, he said.

“There’s not going to be one magic day where everything is opened,” he said. “We’re going to take a series of incremental steps.”

Murphy’s administration also reported it has recorded 198 more COVID-19 deaths statewide, for a total 9,508.

Of those, 15 more were in Monmouth County, bringing the county’s total to 460.

Four of the county’s latest fatalities were of patients or employees at longterm care facilities, the state reported. Such facilities have now seen 335 pandemic deaths, or 73 percent of the county total, the state reported.

For the first time in almost seven weeks, the state reported fewer than 1,000 new positive test results, at 798.

Also on Monday, Monmouth County government reported 39 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing its total to 7,068. Here’s the breakdown by town:

  • Aberdeen: 213
  • Allenhurst: 4
  • Allentown: 7
  • Asbury Park: 172
  • Atlantic Highlands: 27
  • Avon-by-the-Sea: 12
  • Belmar: 27
  • Bradley Beach: 41
  • Brielle: 26
  • Colts Neck: 70
  • Deal: 24
  • Eatontown: 233
  • Englishtown: 38
  • Fair Haven: 22, unchanged from Monday; see note below
  • Farmingdale: 13
  • Freehold Borough: 349
  • Freehold Township: 594
  • Hazlet: 256
  • Highlands: 26
  • Holmdel: 218
  • Howell: 575
  • Interlaken: 1
  • Keansburg: 151
  • Keyport: 82
  • Lake Como: 16
  • Little Silver: 33, unchanged
  • Loch Arbour: 1
  • Long Branch: 413
  • Manalapan: 435
  • Manasquan: 30
  • Marlboro: 417
  • Matawan: 163
  • Middletown: 590
  • Millstone Township: 81
  • Monmouth Beach: 19
  • Neptune City: 52
  • Neptune Township: 413
  • Ocean: 259
  • Oceanport: 56
  • Red Bank: 164, down 2
  • Roosevelt: 6
  • Rumson: 31
  • Sea Bright: 9
  • Sea Girt: 13
  • Shrewsbury Borough: 48
  • Shrewsbury Township: 9
  • Spring Lake: 13
  • Spring Lake Heights: 17
  • Tinton Falls: 179
  • Union Beach: 38
  • Upper Freehold: 45
  • Wall: 279
  • West Long Branch: 58

Here are the latest statewide COVID-19 figures, according to the state Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard:

Deaths since March 10: 9,508, up 198 from Monday’s report

Positive tests: 140,743, up 798

Patients in hospitals: 4,328, up 133

Patients in intensive/critical care: 1,306, up 51

Patients on ventilators: 982, up 12

Patients discharged in preceding 24 hours: 164, down 63

NOTE: Fair Haven police Chief Joe McGovern reported that 12 of the borough’s cumulative 22 residents who have tested positive “have recovered and are no longer symptomatic,” leaving 10 active confirmed cases.