MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Board of Health met via telephone on May 18, with an update on statistics from the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the township and the nation. A statistically significant increase occurred in the number of people who died in the township in April versus last year, but not all deaths in April were due to the virus, and the township will not release the causes of death.

But with only two new cases of the virus since May 9, and seven “active” cases on May 23, Montville is in a relatively good state at present compared to many towns.

Montville Township Health Officer Aimee Puluso said that now that the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the township has decreased greatly, the negative results can be checked for accuracy and residency, as well as whether they were tested using nasal swab or antibodies.

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“We want to make sure that data is correct before we do any kind of analytics with it,” she said. “Further complicating this is that the Communicable Disease Reporting and Surveillance System (CDRSS) doesn’t just say confirmed or negative – there are multiple other choices, including ‘under investigation,’ ‘possible case,’ and ‘probable case.’ Additionally, the report for each case can be pending, open, under review by the local health dept., closed by the local health dept., re-opened, deleted, electronically closed by the state and merged. So there are several categories for the cases and the reports for the cases. Yet another complication is the laboratories entering the correct data for each case: we’ve had cases with no other address than ‘Montville,’ and no phone number for their physician.”

Further, if someone has been tested more than once, they count as a new case, so that case has to be merged, Puluso said. If the county doesn’t take into account the merged cases, the numbers could be too high, she said.

Puluso presented the following death statistics for Montville:

 

2017

2018

2019

2020

March

3

14

18

10

April

15

17

14

47

Year to date

 

 

 

 

March

13 YTD

35 YTD

48YTD

32 YTD

April

28 YTD

52 YTD

62 YTD

79 YTD

 

While April deaths had increased by 33 from last year, the number cannot be entirely attributed to COVID-19, Puluso said. She is not permitted to release the number of COVID deaths, she said, “due to directives she has been given,” and two physicians on the board said that people are reluctant to go to the hospital for care for cardiac problems, overdoses have increased, and it’s possible the cases were by suicide and other causes.

Puluso released the following analysis:

Long-term care facilities

· The Chelsea: 24 cases, 8 deaths (as reported by New Jersey Dept. of Health - NJDOH).

· Fox Trail: staff and residents: 9 cases, 5 deaths (as reported by NJDOH). Facility transferred the 4 remaining patients (all negative without symptoms) to their Mahwah location and closed the Montville facility until further notice.

Analysis of Positive Cases (data as of May 15, 2020) (May change, per the township)

  • As of May 23 there are 216 cases.
  • Average age of cases: 53
  • 35 cases in the township were hospitalized = 7 percent
  • 41% of cases are above age 60.
  • 40% of cases have underlying chronic health conditions.
  • Dwelling units with more than one case (not counting long-term care facilities): 27. (13%)
  • For dwelling units with multiple cases: average is 2 cases per dwelling unit

Cases by Neighborhood

Were there any “hot spots” in the township? In a word, no. The cases were proportionate to how the township is laid out within the three areas.

07045 (Montville)

· 47% of the township’s population

· 45% of COVID cases

07082 (Towaco)

· 25% of the township’s population

· 30% of cases

07058 (Pine Brook)

· 26% of the township’s population

· 25% of cases

There were roughly 710 people who tested negative in the township.

Noncompliance

Puluso said that there were complaints of restaurant staff not wearing masks, or not having plexiglass barriers, or not closing down for curb-side pick-up only, which the Montville Township Police Department was in charge of handling because the complaints fell under the governor’s executive orders.

What if a Vaccine Became Available?

Puluso said calculations had been performed in 2018 and officials learned that it would require 100 hours to vaccinate the entire township, figuring that about 200 people could be vaccinated per hour with the aid of the First Aid Squad, the Dept. of Public Works, and the police. It would be a drive-through clinic. But it would be more likely that the county would conduct five regional clinics, she said.

Contact Tracing

While the township has employed contact tracers, that is, people who call and try to find the first person who gave a patient the Coronavirus, in zero cases were they successful in finding the “index patient,” in other words, who infected that person.

Asterisk from the chart in the gallery, per the township – clarification of numbers not being in synch:

* At the beginning of the pandemic, in an abundance of caution, all cases received in CDRSS were being added to the case count, and included in the raw data on this table. During the week of  May 11, time allowed for a careful, quadruple-checked, line-by-line review by the Health Department of all data received since the beginning of the pandemic. Upon that review, 9 past cases were identified that originally were included in the case count as Montville cases, but had been determined by contact tracers during the investigation to be residents of other jurisdictions, 2 past cases were identified that we received verbal notification from the cases that they were positive but lab results received after that were negative, and 1 past case was identified where the person contracted the virus in a different state and then returned home to Montville to recuperate. Accordingly, on May 14, these 12 past cases were subtracted from the total case count of initially-reported 226 on that date and from the closed case count of initially-reported 212 on that date. The removal of these 12 past cases does not affect the number of current cases still active within the township on May 14.

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