BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
New Jersey reported fewer positive COVID-19 cases and deaths today, Friday, April 17, compared to Thursday, but the battle against what Gov. Phil Murphy called a “once-in-a-century killer” continues.
There were 3,250 new positive test results and 323 deaths reported at today’s state briefing, raising the state’s totals to date to 78,467 cases and 3,840. Thursday, the state had announced 4,391 new cases and 362 deaths.
The total number of deaths in New Jersey due to complications with the virus is now five times the number of New Jerseyans lost on 9/11.
Gov. Murphy addressed President Trump’s guidelines for reopening states, noting that New Jersey is not ready and that more widely available testing and contact tracing measures would be needed.
Although the state is continuing to “flatten the curve,” Murphy said New Jerseyans must continue to stay home. Yesterday Murphy announced that public and private schools would be closed at least until May 15. The Montclair Public Schools have been closed, with instruction taking place remotely, since Monday, March 16.
As of Friday evening, the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Montclair increased from yesterday’s count of 284 to 287. The number of residents who did not survive the illness increased from 30 to 32.
The state saw a two percent decrease in hospitalizations overnight, said NJ Department of Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli.
As of last night, 8,011 residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19, down from the 8,224 reported Wednesday night. Fewer people were in critical care as well at 1,961 and with fewer on ventilators at 1,584. While over the past week, 97 percent of critical care patients were on ventilators, that number has dropped to 81 percent, Persichilli.
The number of patients discharged last night numbered 787.
Persichilli said that April will be the “toughest period” with the respect to the number of infections, but that May will be better.
“We expect to be very busy now through May 12,” said Persichilli, adding that she is optimistic that the infection rate was leveling off due to continued social distancing measures.
Bergen County continues to have the highest number of cases and deaths, at 11,863 total cases and 714 total deaths. The state reported 454 new cases in Bergen County and 46 new deaths.
Essex County replaced Hudson County as the county with the second-highest number of cases, now totaling 9,672, with 546 new cases reported today. The state reported 471 new cases in Hudson today.
The number of Essex County residents who have lost their lives to the virus is now at 684, with 42 new deaths reported today. Hudson is reporting a total of 420 deaths.
Of the 143,450 COVID-19 tests conducted throughout New Jersey, 44.9 percent were positive.
Long-term facilities throughout the state have been hit hard by the virus. To date, 394 long-term care facilities have reported a total of 9,094 COVID-19 positive cases and 1,530 deaths.
In Essex County alone, there are 38 long-term care facilities with outbreaks, with a total of 969 cases and 204 deaths related to the virus, according to Persichilli.
The governor also gave a shout out to the Montclair Drifters, a group of women with charitable, civic, educational and social interests, who have dedicated their talents to the enhancement of their chosen communities and the universal image of womanhood, according to their mission. On April 13, the Drifters served 40 hot lunches to the staff servicing the ICU Team at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair.