By JOHN T. WARD
Though New Jersey’s rate of COVID-19 transmission has been easing in recent weeks, that data conceals a harsh reality, Governor Phil Murphy said at his regular briefing Wednesday.
At 1.08 percent, the rate of COVID-19 transmission is at its lowest point since September 16, but “it still means that each new case is leading to more than one other new case,” he said. “This virus is still spreading.”
More important, he said, is the rising number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 since early October.
“There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the increasing number of cases and the increase in the number of patients in our hospitals,” Murphy said. “That much is not up for debate. It is simple math.”
As of Tuesday, the state’s 71 hospitals were treating 3,287 COVID-19 patients, with 599 in intensive care and 354 on ventilators, according to the New Jersey Health Department website. Both the latter figures have also been climbing in recent weeks.
Though 367 patients were discharged Tuesday, another 507 “were right there to fill those beds and were admitted,” Murphy said.
The number hospitalized has not been seen since mid-May, before the pandemic entered a widely expected summer trough. Now, health experts and government officials are forecasting a “dark winter” of spreading illness, even as vaccines appear to be on the horizon.
Hospitals statewide reported another 51 COVID-19 related fatalities overnight, though Murphy noted that figure was unconfirmed.
In their daily update on the pandemic Wednesday, Monmouth County officials reported 297 new positive tests from Tuesday, for a total 21,263 since the arrival of the pandemic in March.
In Red Bank, more than 700 COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed, up more than 200 since mid-November, the county reported.
Separately, the state’s pandemic dashboard indicated that, as of Wednesday, 818 Monmouth County resident deaths had been attributed to COVID-19, up 2 from Tuesday. The number of deaths considered “probable” results of the virus remained at 92, according to the agency’s pandemic dashboard.
Monmouth officials also announced the availability of free mobile testing sites for healthcare workers starting December 8. A schedule and other details can be found here.
Here are the latest cumulative case totals by Monmouth County town:
|December 2||December 1|
|Spring Lake Hts||116||115|
|West Long Branch||523||525|
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