New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli reported that positive coronavirus test results for 318 state residents were received by to the state Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed positives to 742. Four more New Jersey residents died over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state to nine, officials said.
“We have expected these numbers, as you combine the reality of at least some community spread with an aggressive expansion of testing,” Murphy said. “We knew thew numbers would go up. We are sure they will go into the many thousands. We expect that to happen for a couple of reasons – because of spread, but also because we are aggressively expanding testing.”
The deaths were a Monmouth County woman in her 70s, an Ocean County man in his 70s, an Essex County man in his 70s, and a Bergen County man in his 30s. Officials confirmed that three people from one family have died as a result of complications from the coronavirus — two family members were from New Jersey, and one was from Pennsylvania.
Three deaths in the state have been associated with longterm care facilities, officials said. State health officials have identified positive cases of COVID-19 in six nursing home assisted living facilities. The state has ordered those facilities to curtail admissions and thoroughly clean each facility several times a day, in addition to following other procedures, Persichilli said.
Almost all of the new test results reported to the state Thursday were from commercial labs, officials said. That is only the results that have been forwarded to the state. Other test results from commercial labs still may be pending. The state is still identifying the county of residence for 84 cases.
In Mercer County, 20 people total have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday. The coronavirus has reached a majority of towns in the county. A history professor at the College of New Jersey has tested positive. and a resident of West Windsor has also tested positive. A Hopewell Township family tested positive on Wednesday.
Persichilli said during the press briefing that the CDC has released more information about coronavirus statistics in the U.S. According to that data, the risk for serious disease and death increases with age. The data also indicates that severe illness leading to hospitalization can occur in adults of any age. The most serious outcomes are for adults 65 and older, with 80 percent of coronavirus-related deaths coming from that age group. People 19 and younger have a milder illness with almost no hospitalizations or deaths, but Persichilli said the median age for cases in New Jersey is a little bit younger than for the country as a whole. The median age in New Jersey is 52. Officials are still very focused on people 60 years and older, Persichilli said.
A FEMA drive-thru specimen collecting center will open at Bergen County Community College in Paramus on Friday. The center will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until the center reaches its capacity of 2,500 tests a day. No pre-registration is required. Residents of the state must show a driver’s license or other identification to prove that they live in the state. Residents do not need a permission slip from their doctors for the FEMA facilities, but they will not be tested if they are asymptomatic. They will be turned away. Officials are calling on residents who do not have any symptoms to stay home and not overburden the testing centers. Coronavirus symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and a cough.
A second FEMA drive-through testing center is set to open at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel next week.
Other testing centers are cropping up across the state. At least two have opened in Mercer County, at urgent care centers in Ewing and West Windsor. Visitors to those centers need permission from a doctor in order to be tested. The patient is given a number to call, then the patient is sent to the center, where the patient then calls a number again upon arrival. Someone then comes out in protective gear and swabs the patient for a sample. The specimen is then sent to a lab. Test results are returned within three days. The testing centers are located at InFocus Urgent Care sites at The College of New Jersey’s Campus Town Circle and the Windsor Plaza on Princeton-Hightstown Road,