New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday urged residents to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and use common sense as the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to climb.
“Do not think that the worst of this pandemic is in the past,” Murphy said at his regular press briefing. “We know we are just months away from pulling ourselves out of the darkness, and our optimism grows every day as we inch closer and closer. But we can’t let up now when this virus is still as deadly as ever.”
Murphy said help is on the way, but the vaccine won’t be like a light switch, it will be more like a dimmer switch that will continue to make things brighter gradually. “Don’t let your hair down…Keep your guard up. It’s going to take several months,” Murphy said. “We are indoors. The holiday season is right here. We’re in the middle of it. You’ve got to stay strong. If you stay strong, we can see the end zone. We will get there, God willing, and save as many lives as we collectively can, and we will be in a far, far different and better place as a state and a nation in a very few short months.”
The state received 5,672 positive COVID-19 test results on Friday, and another 5,367 positive test results on Saturday. On Sunday, the state received 6,036 positive COVID-19 test results, a new and unwelcome record. On Monday, the state recorded another 3,573 positive test results, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 371,579 since the pandemic began.
The COVID-19 test positivity rate in New Jersey is 11.4 percent, and the transmission rate, which is a seven-day rolling average, is 1.05. The state’s testing data is for PCR tests and does not yet include antigen tests, Murphy noted.
A total of 3,110 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals in New Jersey as of Sunday night, and another 236 hospital patients were waiting for test results. A total of 637 COVID-19 patients in the state were in intensive care, and 291 were on ventilators. While 269 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals in New Jersey, 417 new COVID-19 patients were admitted. There were 55 unconfirmed COVID-19 related deaths in hospitals over the past 24 hours, Murphy said.
New Jersey recorded 17 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Monday, bringing the state total to 15,550 confirmed deaths. Another 1,836 deaths have been labeled probable COVID-19 deaths.
Dr. Edward Lifshitz, the medical director for the New Jersey Department of Health, said some of the increase in COVID=19 cases is directly related to the Thanksgiving holiday. He said the disruptions and economic pain the virus has caused are difficult, but that they are temporary. The losses suffered by families whose loved ones have died are permanent.
The governor honored the memory of Lawrence resident Toby Robinson, a retired nurse who died as a result of complications from COVID-19. Robinson was a camp nurse, an operating room scrub nurse, and a private pediatric practice nurse. She championed women’s issues and women’s health, dedicating 20 years of her career to Planned Parenthood of Mercer County. She was also active in the League of Women Voters. “May her legacy be inspiring to all of us,” Murphy said.
On Wednesday, state officials will provide more detailed information on projections regarding COVID-19 cases for the weeks and months ahead. Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli is expected to return to the press briefings on Wednesday after quarantining for two weeks due to COVID-19 exposure among some staff members in the health department.