TRENTON, NJ – Despite reporting that there were no in-hospital COVID-19 deaths during the 24-hour period ending 10:30 p.m. last night for the first time since March 10, Gov. Phil Murphy expressed disappointment over the increase in the positivity rate in the state during his COVID-19 press briefing in Trenton on Friday, July 31.
"The spot positivity rate for tests from July 27th is 2.15%, not as good as it has been, but pretty darn good," the governor said while reporting that New Jersey is among the five lowest states for daily positivity.
Meanwhile, the state’s rate of transmission has increased to 1.35, which has trended slightly up in recent weeks. The governor has said that it is important to keep it to 1 or below. A 1.0 transmission rate means that a positive person would only spread COVID-19 to no more than one other person.
The governor said the state is ramping up contact tracing capabilities and working with local health departments to identify causes of outbreaks that have contributed to recent increases in the number of positive cases.
“Given the recent data on cases, it will go higher again,” Murphy said. “Everyone who walks around refusing a mask, hosts a house party, and overstuffs a boat is directly contributing to increases. This has to stop now."
The governor reminded New Jerseyans that the limit on indoor gatherings is the lesser number of 100 individuals or 25% of capacity, whichever is lower.
“We reserve the right to lower this threshold. Consider this being put on notice. We will not tolerate the devil-may-care attitudes any longer,” Murphy said. “We are not past COVID-19,” the governor warned. “I am not announcing any specific action today, but consider this as being put on notice. These numbers are setting off alarms. The only way to silence these alarms is by taking this seriously.”
Today, Burlington County Director of Health Dr. Herb Conaway addressed the county being labeled as an emerging “hot spot” for COVID-19 infections. New cases in Burlington County have increased from around 15 per day to about 35 new cases each day this week.
“From the very start of the pandemic we have kept close watch on the daily testing numbers and data, and we are actively seeking to trace the contacts of all new cases. The coronavirus remains still active and we have started to see an uptick in daily new cases, particularly among teenagers and young adults,” Conaway said.
“While this uptick is certainly cause for concern, we also believe that common-sense measures and adherence to the state’s social-distancing rules and guidance can contain the spread. This is becoming even more important with schools starting in just a few weeks,” said Conaway. “Just because you don’t experience symptoms, does not mean you are not necessarily a carrier for the disease. For this reason, social distancing, at all ages, continues to be paramount, in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
“It is time for vigilance and I urge everyone to wear masks in public, properly social-distance and to get tested if you have symptoms or have visited another state on New Jersey’s quarantine list. If everyone does their part, we can stop this recent uptick from growing into a much more serious outbreak,” urged Conaway.
Governor Murphy reported that there have been 10 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths since his last briefing and that the state total of confirmed deaths has risen to 13,944. Of these, seven occurred within the last five days. (The number of “probable” deaths remains 1,875.) The governor also announced 699 new positive COVID-19 test results, which pushes New Jersey’s cumulative total since March 4 to 181,660. There are currently 695 patients in hospitals (352 COVID-19 confirmed and 343 persons under investigation) with 113 patients in either critical or intensive care, and 45 ventilators in use.