New Jersey reported 4,060 new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 17 and 38 fatalities – the highest number of deaths since May – as the state grapples with a resurgence of the pandemic and approaching holidays.
Tuesday’s additional caseload means that New Jersey logged more than 4,000 cases for three out of the past four days.
Saturday and Sunday both saw record-high numbers of total daily cases ever. Gov. Phil Murphy maintained that the testing capacity is of magnitude greater than during the first wave in March and April, meaning that mathematically, more cases would be caught.
Hospitalizations and fatalities though are the more worrying trend. The 38 COVID-19 deaths the state reported on Tuesday were the highest since the 47 reported May 20, when the state was coming off of a first wave.
Meanwhile, the state logged 2,320 total COVID-19 hospitalizations, the highest since May 30.
Out of more than 5.3 million tests given over the past eight months, the state reported 285,519 total cases and 16,618 fatalities, of which 14,817 were confirmed and 1,801 were probable deaths.
Ventilator-usage and COVID-19 patients in intensive care have also hit months-long record highs. As of Nov. 16, 155 patients were on ventilators – according to state health data – compared to 28 patients on Aug. 19, but still a far cry from the nearly 1,300 patients on April 29.
At the time, state health officials grappled with the moral dilemma of rationing out the then-scarce supply of ventilators to COVID-19 patients, potentially making life and death decisions if the hospital did not have enough ventilators or other alternatives.
As of Nov. 16, the state had 458 COVID-19 intensive care patients, compared to 73 on Aug. 19 but still a far cry from the nearly 1,800 patients in April. 29.
“We are in the midst of a second wave. We must crush this curve. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid large gatherings,” Murphy said on Twitter.
New restrictions on private indoor gatherings went into effect this morning, limiting them to just 10 people, down from 25. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 150 people, down from 500, effective this coming Monday.
Murphy signed an order last week that allows towns and cities to place their own restrictions on non-essential businesses.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka also enacted strict curfew and far-reaching shutdown orders for the three zip codes hardest hit by the virus. The city has become ground zero for new outbreaks, and the lion’s share of new cases and total hospitalizations are in North Jersey.
“We have got to get back in front of this virus,” Murphy added. “I understand why there may be frustration with this step. But as we have been saying for weeks, this will not be a normal Thanksgiving. We are urging everyone to keep their Thanksgiving plans as small as possible.”
The governor has not ruled out another state shutdown like the one during the first wave, which entailed a stay-at-home order, a ban on public gatherings, and the closures of sit-down dining, gyms, nail and hair salons, malls, casinos, and non-essential retail.
Both Oregon and Chicago recently announced two-week shutdowns of that magnitude, in a bid to control outbreaks.