BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
New Jersey has exceeded its goal of testing 20,000 residents per day for COVID-19 by the end of this month, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday, revealing that 30,000 New Jerseyans were tested on May 23.
Reiterating his eight-word mantras for reopening the state — “Public health creates economic health” and “data determines dates” — Murphy said residents will not venture out to stores, gyms or even a graduation unless they know they will be safeguarded against COVID-19.
The state needs more data in addition to what the hospitals are already reporting. Only with universal testing will health officials know where COVID still exists and where hotspots are that could see a flare-up in cases. With the state now offering 164 testing sites, including Rite Aid, CVS and Walmart without a prescription, everyone should get tested, he said.
“Testing of residents is a priority as we work to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. “Testing, contract tracing and isolation and quarantine is the end to end process needed to contain this virus.”
POSITIVITY RATES OF VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
Of the 67 percent of long-term care resident tests reported back so far, there is a 8 to 9 percentage positivity rate. Twenty-seven percent of staff have had tests reported to date, with a 2 to 3 percent positivity rate. At veterans homes statewide, there has been a 24 percent positivity rate for those who have been tested, and the department of corrections has a positivity rate of 19 percent. Migrant farm workers are reporting a 10 percent positivity rate.
Today, May 27, New Jersey officials reported 970 new cases of COVID-19, up from the 703 reported on Tuesday. New death numbers almost tripled at 148, up from the 54 deaths reported yesterday. State totals are now at 156,628 positives and 11,339 deaths. Officials said that the rise in numbers could be attributed to slower reporting over the weekend.
The positivity rate based on tests conducted May 23 is now at 7 percent, up from May 22 results at 5 percent.
Last night, hospitalizations rose slightly, up to 2,761, compared to 2,723 on Monday night. But fewer people were in intensive care (768) and fewer patients (583) were on ventilators compared to Monday night.
Last night, the number of people entering the hospital rose to 241 compared to Monday when 134 new patients entered the hospital. Hospitals discharged 164 patients last night.
On Tuesday night, May 26, Montclair Health Department officials reported the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Montclair had increased from 409 to 416; the number of individuals who did not survive the illness remains at 48.
Wednesday morning, Essex County officials reported 28 new positive cases, down from the 33 reported on Tuesday. The total in Essex County is now at 17,307. Officials also reported 14 new deaths, up from the eight reported on Tuesday, bringing the Essex County total to 1,622.
“Testing accessibility is now easier for New Jerseyans,” Murphy said.
Essex County residents can make an appointment by visiting essexcovid.org or by calling their primary care doctors.