Governor Phil Murphy said Thursday afternoon that the state has confirmed another 182 deaths due to complications from the coronavirus, bringing the total death toll in New Jersey to 537.
State officials reported another death in Mercer County Thursday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the county to four. In Middlesex County, 48 people have died. In Monmouth County, 38 people have died. In Somerset County, 17 people have died. In Hunterdon County, 17 people have died. Eight people have died in Burlington County.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said 17 deaths were associated with a long-term care facility. She said 76 deaths overall are associated with long-term care facilities. Overall, 59 percent of the COVID-19 related death in the state were males, and 41 percent were females. Residents over 80 comprised 47 percent of the deaths. Residents who died had underlying conditions in 35 percent of the cases.
The state has received another 3,489 positive coronavirus test results from labs, bringing the statewide total for positive tests to 25,590. Persichilli said 110 of the 375 long-term care facilities in the state have at least one COVID-19 case. The state received another 53 positive test results for Mercer County, bringing the county total to 386 confirmed cases.
Officials said the state has received 56,915 COVID-19 test results so far, and 41.11 percent of the tests are positive, or four in 10 tests. Testing labs are overwhelmed and have large testing backlogs of at least seven to 12 days, officials said.
Deaths in recent days that have been confirmed by the state and were mentioned by Murphy in his daily press briefing Thursday included Kim King-Smith, an EKG technician who worked the night shift at the University Hospital in Newark, Hudson County Jail Corrections Officer Bernard Waddell, and singer Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne.
“Social distancing is the best tool we have to slow the spread of this illness,” Persichilli said, “The importance of social distancing was underscored by a CDC study released yesterday that demonstrated that transmission can occur also in the absence of symptoms. We know the pressure on the healthcare system will escalate as cases increase, and that’s why we are urging the public to take personal responsibility to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by staying home. We are all in this together, and we must take steps to protect one another.”
Murphy said the first field medical center in the state at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus is almost ready to open and will have a 250-bed capacity. A second field hospital will be set up in Edison at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center, with a 500-bed capacity. A third field hospital will be set up at the Atlantic City Convention Center, and will have a 250-bed capacity.
Murphy praised healthcare workers and others on the front lines of the battle to save lives during the pandemic, including critical care workers treating patients who are on ventilators at Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center in Bergen, an epicenter of the crisis in New Jersey.
“You are our superheroes,” Murphy said of healthcare workers across the state, also praising business people, NJ Transit workers, and clerks at grocery stores and pharmacies. He encouraged residents to tell stories of helpers on social media, using the hashtag #njthanksyou to spread hope, optimism and good humor.
Officials Thursday reported six major incidents over the past 24 hours. Police had to break up at a funeral in Lakewood that was attended by 60 to 70 people. Fifteen people were charged with violations. In Edison, a person who was charged with being in possession of a controlled and dangerous substance claimed to have the coronavirus and coughed on an officer. In Newark, police issued 137 separate violations and closed four businesses. A state trooper responded to an accident in Morris County and discovered that the driver of the car was wanted. She drooled and spit on the trooper, and claimed to have the coronavirus. In Morristown, police broke up a party and the host was charged with violating an executive order. There was also a dispute at a tow yard where someone argued with the tow truck operator and told the tow truck operator he was going to spit on the door handle of his vehicle, police said.