With a rebound of COVID-19 in New Jersey and across the nation, the numbers meant to show whether the virus is spreading have become more of a “mixed bag,” rather than an indication that the virus is under control, the governor said on Tuesday.
State health officials reported 565 new positive cases of the virus, 24 new deaths, 30 new hospitalizations, a 1.87 percent positivity rate among tests, and a transmission rate of 1.14—the highest in months.
“When you hear about house parties and other flare-ups, what we’ve seen when you look at the raw numbers, it’s a mixed bag at best,” Murphy said at an unrelated press event Tuesday morning in North Brunswick. “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
The nonprofit “Covid Act Now,” which has typically shown New Jersey as one of the few states on track to contain the virus, has recently shown New Jersey as part of a larger pool of states with a manageable but present growth of the pandemic.
Currently, none of the 50 states are in that category, according to the nonprofit.
On Tuesday afternoon, Murphy added three new states and two territories to the ever-growing list of places with a travel advisory due to COVID-19 surges, bringing the total locations persons are expected to self quarantine from when traveling into New Jersey to 36.
Tuesday’s additions include Illinois; Minnesota; Kentucky; Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Compliance with the 14-day advisory for travelers coming into New Jersey is purely voluntary, unlike New York where air travelers need to provide contact information to health officials lest they face fines of up to $2,000.
Murphy said Tuesday that the 30 new COVID-19 hospitalizations were well within a range that the state’s health care system could manage. Those numbers are a far cry from March and April, when hospitals were filled to capacity, which saw the state opening up of shut down medical facilities and the setting up of field hospitals via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The 1.14 rate of transmission – basically how fast the virus spreads – should ideally stay below one. Anything above that means that for every person who gets the virus, they spread it to at least one other person.
At the height of the pandemic, the transmission rate was five, and it was 0.70 prior to the June 15 reopening of outdoor dining and non-essential businesses, followed by malls, casinos and outdoor recreation later that month. New reopenings, like for gyms and indoor dining, have been put on hold indefinitely due to the resurgence of the virus in the South, West and Southwest parts of the nation.
The positivity rate was also at a comfortable range, Murphy said on Tuesday.
The number of new cases reported Tuesday is the highest since the beginning of June, followed by 547 new cases on July 26 and 512 new cases on July 27.
“We think some of that are labs getting caught up on days they weren’t reporting on time last week,” Murphy said on “Good Day New York” Monday morning on Fox5 television. He has referred to those complications as “noise” and “data distortion.”
On Monday, Murphy announced that state and local health officials will rely on Rutgers’ landmark saliva-based COVID-19 tests amid the backlog at commercial labs pushing wait-time for results to as long as a week.
The governor said that RUCDR Infinite Biologics at Rutgers University, which developed the dianostic, would provide at least 30,000 tests a day, with results available within 48 hours.
Priority will be front line health care workers and the state’s vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens, long-term care residents, the incarcerated, and psychiatric patients.