LIVINGSTON, NJ — Despite reporting that there were no in-hospital COVID-19 deaths during the 24-hour period ending at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday for the first time since March 10, Gov. Phil Murphy expressed disappointment on Friday afternoon over the significant increase in the rate of transmission (rT) across New Jersey. 

Although the State of New Jersey is currently among the five lowest states for daily positivity with a spot positivity rate of 2.15 percent for tests from July 27, Murphy revealed that the state’s rT has increased to 1.35. Explaining that a 1.0 rT means that a positive person would only spread COVID-19 to no more than one other person, the governor reiterated the importance of keeping that number at or below 1.0. 

"We are not past COVID-19," he said. "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.”

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In the Township of Livingston on Friday, county data showed in an increase of six new COVID-19 cases and one new death attributed to the coronavirus since Thursday afternoon, bringing the local total to 520 cases and 70 deaths at the end of July.

Although information on the one new death is currently unknown, 53 of the 69 deaths reported on Thursday were from Livingston-based long-term care facilities while 16 were from private residences.

As of Thursday, 10 of the deceased individuals were under 75 years old, with the youngest being a 37-year-old resident with multiple serious underlying medical conditions, according to the township. All nine of the other individuals were over 55 years old, and eight of them had underlying medical conditions. 

"None of these cases are associated with outbreak situations in any type of setting," said Livingston Health Officer Louis Anello. "The trend has definitely gone down, although we are starting to see more positive cases in the younger population as more people are getting tested."

In order to identify causes of outbreaks that have contributed to recent increases in the number of positive cases, the governor said the State of New Jersey is ramping up contact tracing capabilities and working even more closely with local health departments.

“Given the recent data on cases, it will go higher again,” said Murphy. “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."

He also reminded New Jerseyans that the limit on indoor gatherings is the lesser number of 100 individuals or 25 percent of capacity, whichever is lower.

“We reserve the right to lower this threshold," he said. "Consider this being put on notice. We will not tolerate the devil-may-care attitudes any longer."

The governor also announced 699 new positive COVID-19 test results and 10 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths, bringing New Jersey’s cumulative total since March 4 to 181,660 cases and 13,944 deaths attributed to the coronavirus. (The number of “probable” deaths remains 1,875.)  

There were also 695 patients in hospitals (352 COVID-19 confirmed and 343 persons under investigation) on Friday afternoon with 113 patients in either critical or intensive care, and 45 ventilators in use.   

“Overall, the trends in our hospitals continue to move our health care system in the right direction,” said Murphy. “As these numbers keep moving down, so do we in the national rankings of the important health care metrics. Even with the increases we’ve seen in the latest case numbers, NJ remains among the 10 states nationwide with the lowest number of active cases per capita."

Murphy also announced a series of improvements to the state’s information dashboard (http://covid19.nj.gov) in order to provide statewide and county-level trends in confirmed cases, deaths and hospitalizations over time. The number of cases can now be viewed by the date of illness onset, and breakdowns by race and ethnicity “will be given greater clarity,” he said.

According to the governor, the complete curve of confirmed deaths by date of death as well as the dates of deaths listed as “probable” will now be regularly reported on the site as well. 

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