By ERIN ROLL
New Jersey’s daily counts of new COVID-19 cases have doubled since mid-September, state health officials said today. Moreover, new cases are being reported in higher numbers across the state, rather than being confined to a specific county or counties.
On Monday, Oct. 19, state health officials reported 1,192 new positive cases, compared to 973 on Oct. 15. The state total now stands at 221,205 cases.
Ocean County had the highest number of new cases with 154, followed by Essex with 132, Union with 109, Middlesex with 108 and Bergen with 103.
The positivity rate is 3.36 percent, down from 4.3 percent on Oct. 15, and the transmission rate now stands at 1.14, down from 1.16 on Oct. 15.
Officials also reported four new deaths, compared to six on Oct. 15. The total number of deaths stands at 14,425, and the number of deaths probably due to COVID-19 is at 1,789.
The onset of colder weather, which will see people spending more time indoors, is also a matter of concern for officials.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that while the numbers are a far cry from where they were during the spring peak of COVID-19, they are also well above the low numbers seen during the summer. During the summer months, officials typically reported between 200 and 300 new cases a day.
Persichilli acknowledged that residents were very likely tired of COVID-19 and the health precautions, but she said the virus is still very much present, and that residents should not let their guards down.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the new cases are not believed to be connected to the resumption of indoor dining at restaurants or the reopening of gyms and other businesses. Rather, he said, at least 16 percent of the new cases — the largest single percentage — are connected to parties and indoor gatherings.
“At this point, it’s up to all of us,” Murphy said, referring to residents’ responsibilities to practice social distancing, wear masks and wash hands.
Montclair has also seen a rise in cases, with 29 new cases being reported between Oct. 13 and Oct. 18.
New Jersey advises travelers from out of state, as well as residents returning from out of state, to quarantine for at least two weeks if they are coming from a state on the travel advisory list. However, New Jersey’s new case numbers put it in the same category as many of the states on that advisory list.
Murphy said that the state has been on travel advisory lists for Massachusetts and Vermont for some time, and that the state is working with Connecticut and New York regarding the tri-state travel advisory list.
He encouraged residents not to travel unless that travel is for work or other necessary reasons.
As of Oct. 19, New Jersey voters have submitted 1.75 million early ballots, at least 45 percent of the total voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election.
Voters may submit their ballots through the mail, via a designated county drop box, in person at the Essex County Board of Elections office or in person at a designated polling place on Election Day, Nov. 3. Montclair’s drop box is located outside of the front entrance to the municipal building, and is monitored by a surveillance camera.
As of Sunday, Oct. 18, hospitals reported 758 patients, including 166 in critical care and 62 on ventilators. By comparison, on Oct. 14, hospitals reported 733 patients, including 178 in ICUs and 60 on ventilators.
Essex County officials reported 146 new cases on Oct. 19, up from 134 new cases the day before. The number of cases sits at 22,606. The number of deaths was unchanged between Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, 1,905.
Montclair health officials reported five new cases on Oct. 18, bringing the total to 608. The number of deaths remains at 57.