The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators dropped below 1,000 for the first time since New Jersey began charting the number April 4. On Sunday, it was down to 994, the state reported.
The high was 1,705 people April 14. The state’s COVID-19 cases were peaking at that time and officials were asking for 2,500 ventilators at the time — fearing a bigger surge.
The number of people on ventilators was one of four encouraging numbers the state released Sunday.
There are 4,308 people in hospitals — down from a high of 8,293 on April 14. And there were 1,338 people in intensive or critical care, down from a high of 2,080 on April 13.
And, while there were 1,503 new cases, bringing the state total to 138,532, the number marked the fifth consecutive day the state reported fewer than 2,000 new cases. There were 140 more fatalities, bringing the state total to 9,255.
Murphy, during his daily briefing Saturday, said he continues to be encouraged by the hospital numbers.
“The number of new cases continues to show an overall positive trend, but where we are seeing the most progress is in the declining positivity rate — that is the number of tests which are coming back positive,” he said.
“As you can see, the daily positivity rate has been coming down —steadily — over the past several weeks. And, for the latest tests which we can assign a collection date to — in this case, May 5 — that rate has dipped to 27%. So, we’re making progress.”
Other notes from the weekend:
Murphy announced Saturday that the American Red Cross will be opening two convalescent plasma collection sites in North Jersey on Monday. One will be at the American Red Cross’ blood center in Fairfield, and the other will be at University Hospital in Newark.
In late March, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced an initiative to collect blood plasma from those who have recovered from novel coronavirus to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections. Researchers are finding the antibodies in plasma from recovered patients may help others in their own fight against the virus.
University Hospital has treated a significant number of COVID-19 patients. Murphy said approximately 100 COVID-19 patients at University Hospital have been treated with convalescent plasma, with promising signs.
Money for schools
The state Department of Education will launch an online application process for eligible districts to receive their shares of $280 million, Murphy said.
The money will go to help cover the costs of purchasing educational technology, providing remote instruction, cleaning and sanitizing buildings, and ensuring support services for students who require them, among other COVID-19 response-related expenses, Murphy said.
“Getting this funding flowing directly to our districts is a win for our schools and educators, our students, and our taxpayers,” Murphy said.
The state’s response rate has increased to 59.8%, but it’s still 21st among the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Murphy reiterated the importance again Saturday.
“New Jersey was undercounted in 2010, and, because of that, we have left billions of dollars in federal aid on the table over the past decade,” he said. “And that undercount even impacts us today in our efforts to get more COVID-19 relief to our state.”
Go to 2020Census.gov to be counted.
“This is a big step forward, and to know that it was made here in New Jersey, with the support from our state’s flagship institution of higher education, is a great feather in our cap. We all know that testing is a critical part of our getting on the road back, and the easier and more accessible testing is, the more secure we will be on the road.”