N.J. breaks down fatalities by age group as number of deaths rise rapidly

Health commissioner also orders more protections (masks, separations) at long-term care facilities

By Tom Bergeron
Trenton | Mar 31, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Heath Commissioner Judith Persichilli said New Jersey has put in new guidelines regarding long-term care facilities as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state — both in these facilities and outside of them — continues to rise.

On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced there were 69 more fatalities connected to the COVID-19 outbreak, by far the highest single-day total. It brings the state’s overall total to 267. More so, the number comes one day after 37 deaths were announced Monday, giving the state a total of 106 in two days.

The state also announced there were 2,196 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 18,696.

Persichilli, who said 81 of the state’s 375 long-term care facilities have at least one positive case, said a number of regulations have been ordered, starting with the use of masks.

“The department issued updated guidance that directs them to implement universal masking of all staff and anyone entering the facility,” she said during the state’s daily briefing. “We are taking this step to reduce the risk of illness being introduced into the facility.”

The protection, she said, goes both ways. All symptomatic facility residents should be masked while staff is providing direct care. In addition, Perschilli said facilities must create separate wings, units or floors to accept asymptomatic residents coming in or returning — while creating wings for COVID-19 positive residents.

Persichilli said the state also has told facilities to limit staff working between units as much as possible.

The state also gave the most detailed information regarding the ages of the 267 fatalities.

  • Less than 30 years of age: 3 fatalities (1% of total)
  • Between 30-49: 12 fatalities (5%)
  • Between 50-64: 46 fatalities (17%)
  • Between 65-79: 80 fatalities (30%)
  • Over 80: 126 fatalities (47%)

While COVID-19 appears to infect more males than females, the fatality breakdown was a relatively even 55% male, 45% female.

Persichilli said the state has decided it’s still in the best interests of those in the facilities not to name which ones have at least one positive case.

“We don’t want to scare anyone,” she said. “These are these people’s homes.”

She also said employees are not required to wear the more protective, but harder to get N95 masks. Surgical or cloth masks were acceptable.

“It’s to protect residents from employees,” she said.

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