TRENTON, NJ - Despite reporting that there were no in-hospital COVID-19 deaths during the 24-hour period ending July 30 at 10:30 p.m., the first such time since March 10, Governor Phil Murphy expressed disappointment over the increase in the positivity rate in the state during his July 31 COVID-19 press briefing.
"The spot positivity rate for tests from July 27 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.”
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.
“Overall, the trends in our hospitals continue to move our health care system in the right direction,” Murphy said. “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, New Jersey remains among the ten states nationwide with the lowest number of active cases per capita."
Harsh Words for McConnell
“I must note that Senate Republican Leader McConnell sent the Senate home for a long weekend without taking any action on a long list of items, but especially to renew federal unemployment benefits that have now expired for millions of families here in New Jersey and many more millions nationwide,” Murphy said at the beginning of the briefing.
“With millions of families left hanging, to simply go home for a long weekend is the ultimate act of irresponsible behavior and dereliction of duty,” he said. “Senator McConnell, go back to Washington and get this done. Families across the nation are facing an economic meltdown on your watch."
"This is no time to take a long weekend," Murphy added. "It’s despicable.”
Gov. Murphy announced a series of improvements to the state’s information dashboard (http://covid19.nj.gov) that he says will provide greater context to our data. The dashboard will now 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. Breakdowns by race and ethnicity “will be given greater clarity.”
The site will now post the complete curve of confirmed deaths by date of death, as well as the dates of deaths listed as “probable.”