What to Know
- As of Thursday, nearly 100,000 people in New Jersey had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Nearly 5,400 people had died.
- Gov. Phil Murphy is touting Rutgers University's saliva test for helping expand testing in the state.
- More testing is needed to develop contact tracing before social-distancing measures can begin to be lifted, Murphy said.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday that COVID-19 cases in New Jersey are almost at 100,000 as the hard-hit Garden State continues to aggressively test for the deadly virus.
On Thursday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey jumped to 99,989, with more than 4,000 new cases reported.
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"Of the nearly 100,000 total cases we’ve reported since our first positive case on March 4th, roughly 46,000 of these individuals have now exited the two-week incubation window," Murphy said.
At least 5,368 people have died from coronavirus-related complications with 307 more deaths reported over the past 24 hours. Preexisting conditions like cardiovascular disease (60%) and diabetes (42%) have been prevalent in deaths of people with underlying conditions.
Despite the increase in deaths and cases, Murphy saw some leveling off of the viral spread.
Murphy urged for people to continue to stay at home and remain socially distant from one another when they must go out for essentials.
"I am not in a position yet to begin reopening our state and jump starting our economy," Murphy said Wednesday. On Thursday, he said he hopes to have some sort of plan by Monday.
Murphy said he has yet to commit to any guidance on Memorial Day parades, but said he doubts at this point that they will be held.
The Push to Test for COVID-19 as Rutgers' Saliva Test Expands
Murphy says he thinks the state needs to double the number of tests it does daily.
Murphy, a Democrat, has said the state would need to ramp up testing beyond just symptomatic people before reopening its economy.
As of Thursday at least 86 sites in the state offered COVID-19 testing.
Some testing sites are using a saliva test developed by Rutgers University. That saliva-based test is going to be used starting next week at five state developmental centers, Murphy said.
"This is a total of more than 5,500 tests – more than 1,200 residents, and in excess of 4,300 staff," Murphy said.
As the Rutgers-developed testing expands -- up to 10,000 tests can be done a day within a couple of weeks, according to Rutgers -- Murphy wants more state workers tested.
"We are working to expand testing to other state workers and the individuals we serve," he said.
The Rutgers' saliva test in 100% accurate compared to a traditional swab test in the nose, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Chancellor Dr. Brian Strom said.
There is also a collaboration with Cooper University Hospital to test around 3,000 long-term care residents and staff at 16 nursing home and long-term facilities in South Jersey, the state health department said.
The expanded testing will allow state health officials to learn more about contact tracing, Murphy said.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.