Amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says his state is ready for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
"The Second Wave of coronavirus is no longer something off in the future," the first term Democrat said at his Thursday coronavirus news briefing. "It’s coming in now."
On Thursday alone, Murphy reported 1,477 new cases of COVID-19. The positivity rate of people tested was at 6.54% -- a number Murphy is concerned by -- and the rate of transmission was holding above 1 at 1.25. The positivity rate is "pretty tight" across the state, Murphy said.
Murphy called Essex County's 241 cases, "our biggest concern." He also said that other northern counties like Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic and Union counties were each reporting more than 100 daily cases each. Community spread is throughout the state, however.
Murphy and state officials said that private gatherings appear to be most responsible for recent increases in cases.
Murphy said that the state has been preparing for the second wave and is ready to meet it head on.
Murphy on Thursday laid out the millions of pieces of PPE from hospital gloves to gowns to masks to ventilators that the state has stockpiled in preparation for the second wave. He also touted the average of 33,000 tests being done daily and contact tracing corps, there will be about 2,1000 working across the state within the next couple weeks.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that a recent spike of cases in Lakewood, Ocean County, was beaten back thanks to hot spot response teams that put up various, convenient testing sites, contact tracing and cooperation from residents. She said this "hot spot team" model is being used in other communities and can be sent to communities as available.
Murphy offered advice to battle back against "pandemic fatigue:" "Double-down on the practices that helped us flatten the curve last spring – social distance, wash your hands, wear a mask."
As of Thursday, nearly 235,000 COVID-19 cases had been reported in New Jersey since the start of the pandemic. Multiple days recently have had more than 1,000 cases reported. Even with the recent spike in cases, New Jersey is still reporting fewer cases then at its peak in the spring.
More than 1,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 or suspected of having the virus, officials said. That number is up significantly from six weeks ago.
With eight new deaths reported Thursday, at least 14,539 people have died from coronavirus-related complications since the start of the pandemic. Another nearly 1,800 people are suspected to have died from COVID-19 complications.