BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
After three months of closing the doors at long-term care facilities, families will be reunited with loved ones this Sunday, Father’s Day. Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced rules for opening up long-term care facilities for loved ones to begin visitations at today’s COVID-19 briefing on Friday, June 19.
The announcement comes at the same time officials announced 22 new deaths and 116 new cases at long-term care facilities, bringing the totals to 6,152 deaths and 35,699 cases, nearly half of the state’s total deaths from the virus and about one-fifth of the state’s total cases.
Persichilli said facilities will begin taking appointments today. Visits will take place in outdoor settings and by appointment only. Both patients and visitors will have to wear face masks and will have to remain six-feet apart. Only two guests will be allowed at a time. And guests will be screened in a designated area before meeting up with a loved one who will be brought out by a staff member.
DEATH TOLL WILL INCREASE
Next week the state expects to announce numbers on the residents who have died due to suspected complications with the virus, but who were never confirmed as positive through COVID-19 testing. For over a month, state medical director Edward Lifshitz and his team have been analyzing death certificates to determine if patients had passed due to COVID-related conditions.
“We know many others have not been officially counted. A COVID test was never performed, although they had underlying symptoms or causes that point to COVER-19,” said Murphy at today’s debriefing.
New Jersey has seen an uptick in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. Officials reported an additional 516 new cases up from the 442 reported yesterday, and 330 on Wednesday. bringing the state total to 168,624.
The number of deaths remained consistent at 37 compared to yesterday’s number of 38, with the state total rising to 12,835.
Officials are looking at three numbers over time to determine if the virus is being contained: spot positivity rate, the rate of spread, and new hospitalizations.
The most recent numbers show good trends in all three areas. The rate of positives among residents who were tested for COVID was 2.47 percent on Friday, down from 2.94 percent reported yesterday and 3.5 percent reported on Wednesday. The virus transmission rate declined slightly to 0.70, from 0.75 reported on Thursday, which was an increase from the 0.07 reported on Wednesday.
And new hospitalizations declined to 61 on Thursday night, from 73 reported Wednesday evening. The number of patients discharged increased to 108, compared to the 134 live patients sent home on Wednesday.
The total number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased to 1,177 last night, compared to the 1,268 patients on Wednesday. The number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators also dropped, with 286 in ICU and 231 on ventilators Thursday night, compared to Wednesday when 319 patients were in critical care and 257 ventilators were in use.
Persichilli reported no new cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, and the state total remains at 43.
On Friday, Essex County health officials reported 26 new cases, down from the 54 new cases reported yesterday. The county-wide death toll now stands at 1,751, with one death reported today.
After five days with a one case a day increase, on Friday Montclair officials reported no increase. The confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Montclair remains at 434; the number of individuals who did not survive the illness remains at 50.