By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Today, officials announced that in Essex County there are 217 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths, one of which was a Montclair resident.
In Essex County, 826 residents in total have tested positive for COVID-19. Eighteen residents have died from the virus, state officials announced today, March 27.
Nine more Montclair residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in Montclair to 50 as of today. One person died overnight. Of the 10 Montclair residents who have not survived the illness, all had underlying health conditions and nine were in long-term health facilities, according to Montclair’s Health Director Sue Portuese.
In New Jersey, there are now 8,825 positive cases of COVID-19, with 108 deaths to date. The number of positives increased by 1,982 overnight, lower than yesterday’s increase of 2,492. But today saw the largest number of deaths related to COVID-19 at 27. Deaths are now at 108 statewide.
About a third of the tests are positive, while two-thirds, (to date 16,547) are negative, said Gov. Phil Murphy. The positivity rate today was at 33.4 percent, up from yesterday’s rate of 31 percent, she said.
Murphy reminded New Jerseyans that the state is testing only symptomatic individuals, meaning that the numbers will reflect the rate of positives among people who show symptoms.
The high positive rates coming out of New Jersey means the state is using its resources in the most effective way, he said.
“Testing everyone would be useless. Testing the worried well would waste tests and lab space,” he said.
The state has run 24,843 COVID-19 tests. The tests results are taking about seven days at this point, which means the social distancing measures enacted six days ago and their effects remain to be seen, said State Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
She reminded residents that social distancing is the best “contribution” one can give to the fight.
Last night, the state reported 26 social distancing compliance checks over 12 counties, with five people being charged with obstruction and disorderly person or mischief.
The state is currently asking hospitals to double the number of acute, critical care hospital beds to be ready for the surge in patients, which could occur in two weeks. Three field hospitals at expo centers in the Meadowlands, Edison and Atlantic City are being created, with the one in Meadowland due to open next Friday. While the Edison location will be a COVID-only facility, the one in Meadowlands will be a general hospital, officials said.
The hospitals currently have 2,000 ventilators, but need another 2,300 on standby, Persichilli said.
Tomorrow testing centers at Bergen Community College and PNC Arts Center will only be open to testing for first responders, police and fire personnel, and medical workers who are symptomatic. On Sunday, the centers will also begin a staggered schedule, increasing the testing to 500 a day. Bergen will be open on Sunday and PNC will open on Monday.
Tomorrow, March 28, Essex County residents can be tested at a testing site in Weequahic Park, Newark, by appointment only
Residents can visit www.EssexCOVID.org, where they will be required to complete a short online screening process before an appointment is scheduled. Residents will be asked several health-related questions and to detail any symptoms they have related to the coronavirus. Upon completion of the survey, they will be informed if they are eligible for the screening. If they are eligible, a confirmation number will be provided. Residents must bring the confirmation number with them to their appointment and must arrive by car.