NJ hits highest COVID hospitalizations in 3 months (updated)

Daniel J. Munoz//October 21, 2020

NJ hits highest COVID hospitalizations in 3 months (updated)

Daniel J. Munoz//October 21, 2020

New Jersey logged more than 800 overall COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday—the highest count in over three months, according to Gov. Phil Murphy, as a second wave of the virus spreads to every corner of the state.

New Jersey last reported such high levels of hospitalizations, in the 800 to 900 range, in mid-July.

The state was then at the tail-end of a first wave of outbreaks that began in the spring, with surges experienced then traced back to illegal house parties attended by teens and young adults.

There were 1,062 new cases on Wednesday, marking a statewide 223,223 cases of COVID-19 since the first recorded infection on March 4. There were 844 COVID-19 hospitalizations and a rate of transmission of 1.15.

Wednesday also marks the fourth day in a row that the state logged more than 1,000 new positive cases of COVID-19, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Health.

One of the recent positives was a person with whom Murphy had close contact over the weekend, , according to the governor, prompting him to begin self-quarantine.

State health officials say that recent outbreaks have come from a shift to indoor, private gatherings driven by colder weather where compliance is spotty on 6-foot physical distancing and the use of face coverings.

Towns with a major university presence – such as West Long Branch, which houses Monmouth University, and New Brunswick, the home of one of Rutgers University’s campuses – were among initial hotspots this fall. And the ultra-Orthodox, Jewish-majority community of Lakewood Township in Ocean County was also a nexus of COVID-19 cases following the High Holy Days in late September.

That is becoming less the case now, the governor cautioned.

The top five counties as of Wednesday were Bergen with 124 new cases, Hudson with 116 new cases, Union with 102 new cases, Middlesex with 80 new cases and Passaic with 73 new cases.

Murphy has effectively paused reopening plans – such as a relaxation of capacity restrictions on indoor dining. And, he has entertained restricting public gatherings.

New Jersey’s numbers also qualify the state for its own travel restrictions, as do those of neighboring Delaware, Pennsylvania, and nearby Connecticut. These states have pledged not to levy the travel restrictions against each other, as did New York, with state Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying such measures would not be practical.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article identified Wednesday’s more than 800 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 as “new,” this was incorrect; the 800 cases are overall.