New Jersey on Thursday logged an all-time record high of nearly 5,000 new daily COVID-19 cases, according to data posted on Thursday by the state Health Department.
“This pandemic is nowhere near over. We can’t give up the fight now. Mask up. Social distance. Wash your hands, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Twitter the same day.
The previous high was 4,679 total cases on Nov. 21, but health officials noted 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 3,292 COVID-19 hospitalizations – the highest since mid-May but far below the peak of 8,000 hospitalizations in April.
There were 366 patients on ventilators and 610 in critical care, according to the latest state health data. And the state recorded 64 new COVID-19 deaths, the highest single count in months.
The positivity rate was 13.68% as of Nov. 28, compared to just 4% over 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.
According to data from the state’s Office of Innovation, the peak of the second wave will likely hit in mid-December, when the state is estimated to log over 5,400 new cases. That’s a “moderate” scenario, state officials said. Hospitalizations, which typically lag behind daily positive cases, would peak in late December.
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.
“This is only literally a matter of a handful of months right now. When we’re talking about a safe vaccine that has a 90-something percent hit rate… not one but two of them beginning to have availability this month and then that rolls out in waves in the next number of months,” Murphy said at a Wednesday COVID-19 press briefing.
“When we talk about light at the end of the tunnel, this is real. And so what we need right now is we need a bridge from today until that better day, which is not that far forward.”
Six New Jersey hospitals are slated to get the vaccine in the coming weeks, according to NorthJersey.com: Hackensack University Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, University Hospital in Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City and Cooper University Hospital in Camden.