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COVID-19 tests
COURTESY STATE OF NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at a Sept. 28 press briefing in Trenton.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

New Jersey is expecting 2.6 million rapid-result coronavirus tests to be delivered starting within the next two weeks.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday, Sept. 28, that the federal government will give the state the Abbott Labs-developed BinaxNOW test, which can deliver results in 15 minutes. The tests will arrive in batches of 100,000, with the first batch expected in 10 to 14 days.

The BinaxNOW test is a nasal swab test, but the swab is taken from the front lobe of the nose rather than from deep within the nasal cavity. 

The test will help New Jersey increase its testing capacity and turnaround time, Murphy said: “When you do the math, it’s just shy of doubling our daily testing capacity for about 12 weeks.” The governor called the test “a potential game-changer.” 

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that New Jersey testing centers currently conduct between 30,000 and 35,000 COVID-19 tests a day. 

New Jersey has been seeing an increase in cases over the past week, and health officials said those numbers are driven largely, though not entirely, by COVID-19 hot spots in Ocean County. Persichilli said that in the past six days, state officials confirmed 3,660 new cases, and 28 percent of them — about 1,025 cases — are in Ocean County. She said that testing capacity is being increased at testing centers in that county, and additional contact tracers have been deployed. 

Murphy said the case numbers, and new reports of deaths, are reminders that the pandemic is still not over, and he urged residents to continue practicing social distancing and washing their hands. “We are not out of the woods yet. And the numbers we’ve been seeing over the last two weeks, Judy, bear that out,” he said to Persichilli. 

Disaster relief

New Jersey has asked to be declared a major disaster area by FEMA because of Hurricane Isaias, and has requested $32.4 million in recovery funds. 

The hurricane struck the state on Aug. 5. More than 1 million residents lost power, and the storm caused extensive damage to trees and power lines. Some households were without power for up to a week. 

Today’s numbers

Today, Sept. 28, New Jersey health officials reported 561 new cases, down from the 612 reported on Sept. 25, bringing the state total to 204,107. 

The positivity rate for tests was 2.48 percent, compared to 2.2 percent on Sept. 25, while the virus transmission rate remains at 1.12. 

Officials reported only one new confirmed death, compared to seven on Sept. 25, bringing the state total to 14,316. The number of deaths probably due to COVID-19 remains at 1,791. Hospitals reported an additional 16 deaths over the past 24 hours. They reported 421 patients on Sept. 27, compared to 405 on Sept. 24. Critical-care patients rose from 75 on Sept. 24 to 91 on Sept. 27, and ventilator use rose from 32 on Sept. 24 to 39 on Sept. 27. 

Essex County health officials reported 16 new cases on Sept. 28, bringing the county total to 21,034. No new deaths were reported on Sept. 28, and the number of deaths remains at 1,900.

Montclair health officials reported no new cases or deaths on Sept. 28. The number of cases remains at 562, and the number of deaths remains at 57.