A recent analysis from the nonprofit “Covid Act Now” found that New Jersey is only one of three states on track to actually contain the COVID-19 pandemic, as swathes of the country see resurgences.
Two other states – Michigan and New York – are in the same boat, the analyses found. At the outset of the virus, the Empire and Garden states were the hardest hit by the pandemic, and they entered some of the strictest lockdowns in the nation.
Now those efforts appear to be paying off, the data suggests, an oft-times touted point from Gov. Phil Murphy, who in March and April signed sweeping restrictions meant to deprive the virus of in-person gatherings where it might infect new hosts.
That was part of the effort by the administration to “flatten the curve,” so that rather than hospitals being overwhelmed by an influx of new patients, the state instead underwent a steady rise and decline of the peak.
The number of new cases is decreasing week to week, according to the report, and numbers from the state Department of Health went from over 3,000 a day in mid-April, to just over 500 on Friday morning.
“The great work millions of you have done so far to crush the curves has been working and we need to keep at it,” Murphy said at his daily COVID-19 press briefing, Friday morning at the Trenton War Memorial.
New Jersey’s preparedness for the virus, according to the nonprofit, “meets or exceeds international standards.”
As of Thursday, the infection rate was 0.82, meaning that for every one person with the virus, they would infect 0.82 other people on average. That indicates that “active cases are decreasing.”
The positive test rate is 1.8 percent as of Thursday, which “indicates widespread testing.” Meanwhile, the levels of hospital and intensive care unit beds are enough that they could handle an influx of COVID-19 patients, while still treating other patients without the virus.
And the state’s contract tracing ability – to track down potential cases, ensure they are tested and then have those people self-isolate – is considerably healthy, the report found.
But, the state is also one of the top five in the number of fatalities across the country—close to 13,000. Only New York has a higher death toll and number of cases.
Murphy said Friday that the figure might be an undercount because it only included fatalities who tested positive for the virus prior to their death.
“We know that there are many others who have died throughout this pandemic who have not been counted, officially, among our COVID-19 related fatalities,” said the governor.
“This could occur for a number of reasons, including that a COVID-19 test was never performed, even though the underlying symptoms and causes of death point to the fact that an individual did, in fact, have COVID-19,” he said.
These metrics will all be vital factors in considering just when restrictions can be rolled back.
Outdoor dining was finally allowed on June 15, followed by personal care services, such as hair and nail salons, on June 22. Malls will reopen on June 29, but casinos, gyms and indoor dining are still a ways off.
Murphy has not indicated the specific numbers needed to roll back restrictions, or beef them back up again when a highly-anticipated second wave rolls across the state. And the state would put less stock into raw numbers of new daily cases, the governor said Friday, instead looking at the positivity rate, new hospitalizations and the rate of transmission.
“They’re the immediate here and now of what’s going on,” the governor said. “It’s literally how many people tested how many people tested positive as of today, what’s the rate of transmission today and how many new folks are in the hospital.”