WESTFIELD, NJ — The town reported three coronavirus deaths in March as total virus cases rose by 17% to 272 people, according to the mayor.

Mayor Shelley Brindle had in March reported that a 78-year-old woman, a 90-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man died, bringing the number of Westfield COVID-19 deaths to 56 people.

On Friday, Brindle reported that of the 272 coronavirus cases the Westfield Regional Health Department received from the town, 75 people had no known exposure, 71 the department was unable to reach, 57 had a household contact positive for the virus and 12 refused to be interviewed.

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Eight people’s cases were associated with work, four had been diagnosed the month prior, three were hospitalized, and two people’s cases were associated with youth sports, Brindle said.

People with the virus range in age from 12 days old to 97 years old, she said. Teenagers 10 – 19 represented the most highly impacted age group at 26% of the reported cases, Brindle said.

New Jersey has the nation’s second-highest rate of new cases in the last seven days, after Michigan, and patients in intensive care have increased 16% across the state over the last two weeks, Brindle said.

“Officials said this week that younger people are at the center of the new wave in New Jersey, with a 31% increase in people ages 20 to 29 being hospitalized and a 48% increase in those 40 to 49,” she said.

Brindle cited models predicting that cases in New Jersey would peak on April 18 in a “moderate scenario” and on May 18 in a “high scenario.”

“An increase in vaccinations and ongoing diligent precautions could favorably impact the trajectory of these models,” she said.

As of Friday, 32% of the New Jersey’s population had been vaccinated with at least one dose and 18% of people in New Jersey had been fully vaccinated, Brindle said. In Union County, 27% of people have received at least one vaccine does and 15% were fully vaccinated, she said.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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