image_pdf
second wave
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli speaks at a Oct. 8 press briefing in Trenton.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

New Jersey is bracing for the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19, as new daily case counts continue to trend upward. 

Officials reported 1,301 new cases on Oct. 8, the highest number on a given day since late May. Since Oct. 8 officials reported 3,937 new cases, with Oct. 13 seeing 993, up from 478 on Oct. 12, bringing the state total to 215,085. Montclair reported eight new cases this week, with half reported on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Also since Oct. 8, officials have reported 21 new deaths, bringing the state total to 14,394; Oct. 13 saw seven new confirmed COVID-19 deaths. 

The rate of transmission has declined since Oct. 8, from 1.22 to 1.16 on Oct. 13. The positivity rate as of Oct. 13 was unavailable, but on Oct. 8 it had reached 3.69 percent. 

Cases last broke 1,300 on May 29, with 1,394 new cases, Gov. Phil Murphy said. 

“We are anticipating a second wave,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Oct. 8. If people do not continue to practice social distancing, wash their hands and wear masks, “this wave has the potential to become a surge,” she said. 

While health officials are stockpiling personal protective equipment, medical staffing could pose a problem if health-care workers fall ill. Additionally, the out-of-state doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who came to New Jersey to assist during the spring surge are now dealing with the virus in their own states, Persichilli said. 

“To anyone that is still under the delusion that this is just like the flu, it’s time for a wake-up call,” Murphy said. 

Ed Lifshitz, director of communicable disease services for the state, said the numbers are not higher than anticipated, but are still a cause for concern. Overall, he said, the cases are spreading in many different places. 

Lifshitz acknowledged that people were likely tired of social-distancing and mask-wearing, but urged everyone to continue. 

The reopening of indoor dining, gyms and other facilities was connected to the increase in cases, Murphy said. But indoor gatherings are being looked at as a possible contributing factor as well.

The state-level response, Murphy said, would more than likely be more like “a scalpel than a blunt instrument,” meaning New Jersey would target individual communities experiencing an increase rather than require statewide increases in testing, quarantining or banning of certain activities.

New Jersey recently received its first shipment of Binax COVID-19 tests that can deliver results in 15 minutes, which will be deployed to areas, particularly in Ocean and Monmouth counties, with high case numbers and in need of testing reinforcement over the next several days.

Many of the new cases in October, particularly in Ocean County, are possibly linked to religious celebrations at the end of September and communal university living, officials said.  

“So it’s simply, we don’t have a therapeutic yet, God willing, soon. We don’t have a vaccine yet, again, God willing, soon,” Murphy said. “Wake up. For crying out loud, wake up. Wake up!”

Montclair connections

Murphy paid tribute to longtime Montclair artist, pottery instructor and former township deputy clerk Carla Horowitz, who died on March 29 at age 77. 

Horowitz became a potter in 1974, initially working out of a friend’s basement. 

She founded and ran Clay Cellar Pottery in Montclair’s South End for 16 years. She also taught pottery at the Montclair Adult School, the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts and the Montclair Art Museum. She was a member of the Potters Guild of New Jersey. 

Horowitz began working in the township clerk’s office in 1993 and retired 20 years later as deputy clerk. 

Murphy also paid tribute to Mountain Lakes physician Kenneth Jewel, who had a 30-year career with Montclair Radiology. 

The latest numbers

Over the week, hospitalizations continued to rise, as did the number of patients in ICUs and on ventilators. 

On the evening of Oct. 12, after a rise in patients, hospitals reported 649 patients, with 160 in intensive care and 58 on ventilators. A week ago, on Oct. 7, hospitals reported 652 patients, including 102 in critical care and 52 on ventilators. 

On Oct. 13, Essex County officials reported 92 new cases, up from 61 on Oct. 12, and no additional deaths. The total number of cases stands at 21,899 — 639 new cases and two new deaths since Oct. 8 — and the total number of deaths stands at 1,903. 

Montclair health officials reported one new case on Oct. 12 and four new cases on Oct. 13, bringing the total to 584. Eight new cases have been reported since Oct. 8. The number of deaths remains at 57.