COVID-19 confirmed cases in NJ climb to 54,588 as state officials announce another 233 deaths

Gov. Phil Murphy talks to reporters Friday.

The state has received positive COVID-19 test results for another 3,627 residents, bringing the statewide total of confirmed cases to 54,588 as of Friday morning.

Another 233 residents of New Jersey have died as a result of complications from COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,932 deaths, officials said.

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichili said 7,570 people are currently hospitalized in New Jersey as a result of complications from COVID-19, 1,679 intensive care of those patients are in intensive care, and 1,663 are on ventilators.

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli answers
a question on Friday.

At his daily press briefing on Friday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy displayed a heat map that shows the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading in counties across the state. The rate is slowing down the most in Bergen and Salem counties, where it is taking at least seven days or more for positive cases to double. Mercer County and several other counties to the south of Mercer were hotspots on the map because of the rates at which the virus is spreading in those counties.

The state has received another 121 positive COVID-19 test results for residents of Mercer County, bringing the county total to 1,282 positive cases. Three more residents of the county have died as a result of complications from COVID-19, for a total of 39 deaths in the county.

Murphy once again urged residents of the state to continue to practice social distancing and to stay home for Easter.

“We all have a role to play in reducing the number of people we lose. We have to keep with social distancing. That is the key to cracking the code, flattening the curve, and getting us to a better place. Remember, when we flatten the curve of the number of people infected, we lower the number of hospitalizations, the amount of intensive care hospitalizations, and ultimately fatalities One thing does ultimately lead directly to another,” Murphy said.

“This weekend is Easter weekend and is one where we are used to gathering together. We gather for worship, for children’s Easter egg hunts, for family meals with friends. We can’t do any of that this year,” Murphy said. “I feel awful but we can’t. We have to leave the gathering to Facetime, or Zoom, or just simple phone calls, texts, and emails to families and friends. Instead of heading to church, many of us will fire up our laptops to livestream services. Staying apart this year is the surest way we will be able to gather again next Easter and the many Easters to come.”

Murphy thanked U.S. Postal Service workers for their service, noting they are delivering the mail even though their ranks are reduced.

He announced Friday that he was signing an executive order to preserve the balance between public health and public safety by allowing low-risk prisoners whose current age or health status put them at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 — prisoners who were denied parole in the last year or whose sentences expire in the next three months — to be released temporarily for home confinement, or granted parole if they are already eligible, on an expedited basis.

“No one convicted of a serious crime such as murder or sexual assault will be eligible for consideration,” Murphy said. “Each potentially eligible individual must be determined to be safe for home confinement and have access to medical services and housing.”

California, Illinois, several other states, and the federal government have taken similar steps.

Persichilli provided more details about three veterans nursing homes in the state on Friday. A total of 845 veterans live at the three homes in Paramus, Menlo Park, and Vineland. At Menlo Park, 16 residents and five staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, four residents have died, and another 12 are hospitalized. At the Paramus home, 29 residents and 17 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, 13 residents have died, and eight residents are hospitalized. Vineland did not have any confirmed cases as of Friday morning. Twenty-two nurses and 75 combat medics have been deployed to the Paramus and Menlo Park homes.

The state is still receiving data about some New Jersey residents who have died as a result of complications from COVID-19, but in a review of cases so far, 48 percent of the residents who died had documented underlying health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. Fifty-eight percent were male and 42 percent were female. Sixty-four percent were white, 20 percent were black, six percent were Asian, and less than one percent were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders. Under one percent of the residents who have died were under 30, four percent were between the ages of 30 and 49, 17 percent were between the ages of 50 and 64, 33 percent were between the ages of 65 and 79, and 45 percent were over 80.

The state has received a total of 105,611 COVID-19 test results from labs, and 46,676 of those results were positive, for a positivity rate of 44.2 percent.