New Jersey posted an all-time record-high number of daily new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row, according to the latest data from the state Health Department.
On Thursday, the state logged a record-high, 4,913 new COVID-19 cases, breaking the record again today with 5,673 new COVID-19 cases, as the state finds itself well in the territory of a second wave.
“[T]his virus is still moving throughout our state, and residents are still falling ill,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at a Friday afternoon press conference on COVID-19.
The previous high was 4,679 total cases on Nov. 21, but health officials noted in the past week that a surge in testing around Thanksgiving weekend could mean an artificial spike, even though an actual post-Thanksgiving surge could emerge in the next week.
Ramped up testing capacity has meant that more people would inevitably be tested and diagnosed. But state health officials warn that many other metrics they’ve used to determine whether the pandemic is worsening have all been heading in a worrying direction.
Hospitalizations, ventilator usage and critical patient levels have reached numbers not seen since May. In total as of Thursday, the state logged 3,3,15 COVID-19 patients, the highest since mid-May but far below the peak of 8,000 hospitalizations in April.
“There is a direct cause-and-effect. It’s perhaps the biggest reason we need everyone to keep up with the practices that allowed us to crush the curves,” Murphy said on Friday. “The fewer people in the hospital, the less pressure, and the less risk of infection, on our hard-working and heroic health-care workers.”
There were 386 patients on ventilators and 615 in critical care, according to the latest state health data. And the state recorded 48 new COVID-19 deaths, among the highest single count in months.
The positivity rate was 10.42% as of Nov. 30, compared to just 4% during the summer. All told, the virus has infected nearly 351,000 New Jerseyans and claimed 15,373 lives since the first case on March 4.
But the rate of transmission – or how quickly the virus spreads – came in at 1.05 according to data presented Friday. and has been dropping for the past 16 days in a row. An RT above one means that for every person who gets COVID-19, they spread it to at least one other person.
Murphy has entertained new business restrictions but assured that a total statewide shutdown, like what was seen in the spring is still not likely in the near future. Nonetheless, indoor dining, malls, casinos, retails, gyms and salons have to adhere to reduced capacity, and face coverings have to be worn indoors and outdoors.
Private gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings limited to 25 people.
Non-essential travel beyond New Jersey neighboring states is discouraged during the holiday season.