New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state confirmed 934 additional positive coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the statewide total of confirmed cases to 2,844.
Officials said it is unclear whether the figures include any results from the new FEMA statewide testing centers in Paramus and Holmdel. Later in the week, results will start coming in from those testing centers. Murphy said the centers are quickly reaching capacity every day. The new center in Holmdel reached capacity in about an hour on Monday. Murphy is urging residents to be patient. He also urged residents not to try to get tested if they do not have any symptoms. Officials in Union and Hudson counties have opened testing centers for residents of those counties who are exhibiting symptoms. The centers are open by appointment only, Murphy said.
Seven more New Jersey residents have died as a result of complications from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in the state as a result of the virus to 27 in New Jersey. The residents’ ages ranged from 57 to 91. Five were men and two were women. Two residents had preexisting conditions. One resident lived at a longterm care facility.
Mercer County had 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 50. Burlington County had 10 new confirmed cases Monday, Hunterdon County had two new cases, Middlesex County had 61 new cases, Monmouth County had 80 new cases, and Somerset County had 13 new confirmed cases.
Bergen County has the highest number of confirmed positive cases in the state at 609 cases total, Essex County has 273 cases, Monmouth County has 238 cases, and Middlesex County has the fourth-highest number of confirmed cases at 210 confirmed positive cases.
“Clearly, community spread is going on, but also there is a lot more testing going on,” Murphy said. “As the testing regime expands, we will see these numbers go up in a big way, into the many thousands.”
Murphy said test results information is crucial to provide healthcare experts with a clearer picture of how far the virus has already spread in the state, and that state officials want to be transparent about data. State officials have decided to centralize the reporting of testing data. The state has directed all private testing labs to now report their COVID-19 results directly to the New Jersey Department of Health every day. Previously, the results were reported to local health officers and then forwarded to the state. More than 60 labs are providing COVID-19 test results to the state. The labs are required to submit retroactive results of all COVID-19 tests performed prior to March 23 to the state, as well as new daily results, which must be reported to the state by 8 p.m. every day.
“This data will provide valuable insight on how many New Jerseyans are being tested overall and the percentage of negative test results in our state,” Persichilli said.
Commercial laboratories operate on a much larger scale than the state lab. Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and chair of the New Jersey Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force, said it is vital that the state has access to the most accurate and up-to-date COVID-19 test results.
“Obtaining this information from New Jersey’s commercial labs will sharpen our risk mitigation efforts and strengthen our resilience as a state. As we continue to address the challenge of COVID-19, we will utilize every tool in our power to flatten the curve and ultimately beat this virus,” Maples said.
State officials also announced that certain low-level offenders will be released from county jails to stop the spread of COVID-19 on those facilities.
The governor also signed an executive order suspending all elective surgeries in the state as of 5 p.m. on Friday to lessen the burden on the healthcare system.