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State epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan said even though cases are increasing, a lower number of hospitalizations is a promising sign.

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news 

The number of new COVID-19 cases in adolescents and young adults continues to climb, according to state health officials. 

And the rise in cases overall has been linked to gatherings for celebrations or funerals, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said today. Last Sunday marked the first day in weeks daily new cases went over 400. 

Of the 616 new cases reported Thursday, Sept. 18, young adults, teens and preteens make up the largest percentage, with 27 percent ages 20 to 29, and 17 percent ages 10 to 19. Of the 519 new cases reported today, Persichilli said the numbers are following the same trend, with 33 percent ages 18 to 29.   

“This rise in cases reminds us that this virus is unrelenting and treats everyone the same,” Persichilli said. “We are fighting an invisible enemy, and we must continue to be cognizant of that.”

The state is investigating all of these new cases, but Gov. Phil Murphy said that residents are still not cooperating and answering calls from contact tracers. Although response has been better, 22 percent of residents are still not answering calls from tracers, and 56 of those reached refuse to provide contacts of people they had been with, according to state data released today.

But, she said, adolescents and young adults are less likely to experience severe complications connected with the virus, but could spread it to older or compromised individuals. 

On Wednesday, Murphy said the state has no evidence of in-school transmission, but added, “There’s a couple of situations that are still being tracked down.”

At least a dozen schools have shut down since reopening due to teachers and/or students testing positive, according to nj.com. If two or more people from different classrooms get sick, the entire school should shut down, according to state guidelines.

Officials reported large increases in new cases in Ocean and Mommouth counties, with Ocean being in the triple digits for the first time in months and now leading the state in new daily cases. In the past week, the two counties combined reported a total of 736 new cases. Persichilli said the state is deploying more contact tracers to help those counties investigate the source of the increase. 

With the Jewish holidays beginning this weekend and with colder weather setting in officials warned of keeping gatherings to a minimum, mask wearing and social distancing.

TODAY’S NUMBERS

As of today, Sept. 18, New Jersey health officials reported 519 new cases, down from the 616 reported yesterday, bringing the total to 198,842. 

The positivity rate is continuing to rise, from 2.06 percent of tests performed last week to 2.19 percent for tests from Monday. The virus transmission rate is now 1.08, rising from 1.06 on Wednesday.

Officials reported five new deaths compared to the nine new deaths reported on Wednesday. The new deaths occurred over the last five days. Hospitals reported seven deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of deaths now stands at 14,270, and the number of deaths probably due to COVID-19 remains at 1,791. 

Last night, hospitals reported 413 patients with COVID-related symptoms, with 73 in ICUs and 36 on ventilators. On Tuesday night, 462 patients were in hospitals with COVID-related symptoms; of those, 100 were in ICUs and 38 on ventilators.  

After reporting 33 new deaths on Wednesday, on Thursday Essex County reported one new death and none today. The death toll remains at 1,898.  On Wednesday, the number of cases increased by 235 but has since dropped dramatically, with 25 new cases reported on Thursday and 28 today.  The total is now 20,722. 

After reporting no new cases on Wednesday, Montclair Health Department reported two new cases on Thursday and two more on Friday, bringing the total to 549. The death toll is 57.

TESTING

Upcoming Essex County testing locations:

  • Monday, Sept. 21, 4 to 6 p.m., Belleville High School, 100 Passaic Ave., Belleville
  • Tuesday, Sept.  22, 4 to 6 p.m., Verona Community Pool, 257 Fairview Ave., Verona
  • Thursday, Sept.  24, 4 to 6 p.m., Millburn commuter lot, 188 Glen Ave., Millburn
  • Friday, Sept.  25, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Essex County Weequahic Park, Meeker Avenue entrance, Newark (Walk-up appointments are available at this location).