After a long period of steady decline in many important COVID-19 statistics, Gov. Phil Murphy said there are five counties in the state that are beginning to move in the wrong direction.
“It’s fair to say that we have a few new counties that are rising to a level of concern,” Murphy said. “Gloucester, Ocean, Monmouth, Bergen and Middlesex. … This is clear evidence that we are not out of the woods.”
The governor also noted that, out of those listed, Ocean is the county that is causing his office the greatest level of concern, with 439 new positive cases in the past week.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state can pinpoint one of the causes of the rise in cases.
“The main age group for the cases in Ocean and Monmouth are 18-29 years old,” Persichilli said. “We believe the increase may be related to various activities such as house gatherings and business operations. We are reminding people that social distancing and masking is critical to protect people when they gather and participate in group activities.”
Persichilli went on to address the increased risk for COVID-19 being seen in minority communities, noting that national case rates are nearly three times higher for Latino citizens. The commissioner believes that this is a symptom of a larger problem.
“The same longstanding inequities that have contributed to health disparities effecting racial and ethnic groups have also put them at peril for COVID-19,” she said. “These racial and ethnic populations are also disproportionately represented among essential workers and those who are unable to work from home.”
There have now been 612 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported since last update, bringing the statewide total to 202,100. The governor also noted a removal of 88 duplicate or out-of-state positive tests included in his previous update.
Seven additional deaths have now been confirmed to be from COVID-19-related complications. Since March, there have been a total of 14,306 deaths, with an additional 1,791 probable deaths.
All of these new confirmed deaths occurred between Sept. 14- 23. There were 10 more deaths reported in hospitals throughout the state yesterday, but they are not yet lab-confirmed, so they are excluded from the count.
Other hospital numbers:
- In hospital: 405 (233 confirmed cases, 172 under investigation);
- In ICU: 75;
- On ventilators: 32;
- Rate of transmission: 15;
- Positivity rate: 22% (from Sept. 21).