The last state in the top five ranking for most cases of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, is New Jersey. Ranked fifth, New Jersey’s counts are just under those of Florida, with 174,598 confirmed cases as of July 2 and 15,164 COVID-related deaths in the Garden State. These numbers have steeply risen along a steady curve due to the lack of n95 mask use, now forcing some to believe that New Jersey is now unable to stay on track to contain the virus.
So let’s trace the curve and see how the virus has impacted and been responded to in the Garden State.
New Jersey was among the first fifteen states to report a positive test for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, confirming its first case on March 4, the same day as Texas. However, the case is confirmed to have entered the state in Bergen County 2 days prior to the test confirmation. The state’s patient zero was a doctor who worked in New York City, and began experiencing symptoms on March 2. He sought medical testing at an urgent care clinic in Bergen County, where he was tested for the flu and strep throat, both of which tests returned negative results. COVID-19 tests were not yet available at the clinic. Due to the symptoms the patient was experiencing, he was advised to get a CT scan. While waiting in the hospital, his symptoms worsened, developing from a bad cough and heart palpitations to a fever and severe respiratory and minor gastrointestinal symptoms. He was tested for COVID-19 the next day, March 3, and received positive results for the test the day after, making him the first confirmed New Jersey case of coronavirus.
By March 6, two days later, 4 new presumptive cases in Bergen County and 3 in Camden were announced by Governor Phil Murphy. By the 8th, the total number of confirmed cases was 6, just four days after the first confirmation.
Governor Phil Murphy declared New Jersey to be in a state of emergency on March 9.
The first death was announced a mere day later on March 10, another Bergen County resident. Due to COVID-19, the man, 69-year-old John Brennan, had experienced health complications due to underlying conditions, and ultimately died of a heart attack. Days later, the man’s death was revealed to have been linked to a cluster of cases that eventually resulted in the deaths of 4 members of a Little Ferry, NJ family.
On March 14, the total number of cases was confirmed to be 69, and a second death was confirmed in Monmouth County. The woman, 56-year-old Rita Fusco-Jackson, was the first of 4 family members involved in another cluster case to die. The cluster would ultimately infect 10 individuals connected to the same family.
By the next day, Governor Murphy confirmed an additional 31 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total case count in New Jersey to 98. The following day, 80 new cases were confirmed, as well as another death due to the virus. By March 17, a day on which 89 new cases were confirmed, New Jersey’s total number of infections reached 267, with nearly 55% of those cases being severe enough to require hospitalization.
On March 18, the total case count for New Jersey’s confirmed cases of the coronavirus was brought to 427, after another 160 new infections were recorded in the preceding 24 hours. The death toll now totaled 5. Governor Phil Murphy announced the closure of all schools across the state.
On March 19, this number rose again, significantly, bringing the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 742, a 315-case leap in only 24 hours. The death toll nearly doubled in the same short span of time.
By March 21, two days later, cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties. The total number of confirmed cases was now a staggering 1,327, with 16 deaths. Governor Phil Murphy issued a stay at home order, mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses, on the same day.
On March 23, this number had more than doubled, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,844, making New Jersey the state with the second highest number of cases, second only to New York. 27 people had officially died due to the virus.
The death toll increased by nearly 66% the following day, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths to 44 by March 24, and the total number of cases to 3,675. The same day, a man who had declared he had the coronavirus before proceeding to cough on a store clerk was charged with terroristic threats, harassment, and obstruction.
The next day, March 25, the case count had risen to 4,402, and deaths to 62. The number of cases increased by over 2,000 the next day, with New Jersey reporting 6,876 confirmed cases and 81 deaths. These numbers increased similarly the next day, bringing New Jersey’s total counts to 8,825 new confirmed cases and 108 deaths by March 27.
Four days later, March 29, New Jersey was still trailing New York for largest outbreak by number of cases, now with 13,386 confirmed infections and 161 deaths. Of these cases, nearly 700 were police officers.
On March 30, the state confirmed a rise in the number of cases by nearly 3,000, bringing the total confirmed case count to 16,636 just over three weeks since the first infection.
The next day, March 31, New Jersey had a total of 18,696 confirmed cases and a death toll of 267. Commissioner Judith Persichilli issued an order asking hospitals to transfer medically stable patients to make room for incoming patients in severe to critical conditions.
By the first of April, cases had jumped by nearly 4,000new confirmations, recording 22,255 total confirmed cases and 355 total deaths. By April 2, the following day, the total number of deaths had reached 537, 47% of which were people over 80 years of age.
On April 4, officials confirmed that New Jersey was experiencing 34,124 total confirmed cases and now 846 COVID-related deaths. 4,000 of the confirmed cases required hospitalization, with nearly 38% in critical care and nearly 32% unable to breath without aid of ventilators.
On April 7, Governor Murphy relayed that 44,416 people had tested positive for coronavirus, including 1,232 total deaths. New Jersey was still only second in number of cases, falling only behind New York.
On April 9, 51,027 cases had been confirmed, along with 1,700 deaths. These number rose the following day, with officials now reporting a total number of 54,588 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 and 1,932 total deaths. Of these deaths, just under half (45%) were aged over 80 years, while only 1% of deaths were patients under 30. 58% were male, and 42% were female.
On APril 14, New Jersey reached its peak number of hospitalizations, with 8,293 patients seeking medical treatment for coronavirus.
On April 15, 71,030 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been recorded in New Jersey, with 3,156 dead from the disease. By the 16th, officials reported well over 75,000 cases and an additional nearly 400 were reported as having died. By April 17, New Jersey had confirmed 78,467 cases of the SARS-CoV-19 virus, and a total of 3,840 dead. Of the total cases, over 9,000 had been those infected living in long term care facilities, such as nursing homes, as well as 1,530 of the total deaths.
Continuing to trail only New York by number of cases, New Jersey had confirmed 81,420 cases of coronavirus by April 18, and a death toll of 4,070. Governor Phil Murphy expressed the morbidity of the situation, affirming that the death toll in the last month and a half exceeded that of the last 3 flu seasons combined. "This is a pandemic the likes of which we haven't seen in a century,” he expressed. As of April 18, 7,495 of the infected 81,420 people were hospitalized due to coronavirus. 1,940 of the hospital patients were in intensive or critical care, and another 1,628 were reported as being unable to breathe without the aid of a respirator.
On April 19, 85,301 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed, including 4,202 deaths -- numbers that would only continue to rise in the following days, with total confirmed infections reaching 88,806 on April 20, and 92,387 on the 21st. The death tolls for April 21 and April 22 were 4,377 and 4,753, respectively.
On April 22, with nearly 96,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Jersey, it was reported that there were 7,240 coronavirus patients in hospitals. Of these, nearly 2,000 patients were in critical condition and 1,462 were dependent on ventilators.
By April 30, 118,652 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in New Jersey. 7,288 of these cases had proven to be fatal.
On May 4, Governor Phil Murphy announced that all schools would be unable to open, and would remain closed for the duration of the academic year.
Two weeks later, on May 18, Governor Phil Murphy unveiled a phased reopening plan not unlike those being implemented in other states. New Jersey entered Phase 1 of reopening.
On May 26, Governor Murphy announced that graduation ceremonies would be allowed to commence in person, so long as they were in compliance with Phase 1 social distancing regulations and occurred outdoors. It was also announced that sports teams and competitions would be able to resume, as approved by individual leagues.
On May 29, Governor Murphy announced that $100M would be provided to families in need of housing relief via a COVID-19 short term rental assistance program.
Governor Murphy announced on June 1 that New Jersey would enter Phase 2 of reopening in two weeks’ time. The number of total confirmed cases in the state was 160,918. However, on June 8, New Jersey reported only having 356 new daily cases, an all-time low for the last 2 months. This prompted the lifting of the Governor’s stay at home order on June 9, and provisions for the increase on the limited number of participants allowed at indoor and outdoor gatherings.
On June 15, restaurants and bars were able to begin offering outdoor dining, and non-essential retail was approved for reopening, operating at 50% capacity and requiring patrons to wear masks.
On June 22, pools were allowed to reopen.
Thankfully, though New Jersey’s numbers still seem astronomically high, there’s been no severe spike in the number of new daily cases since June 25, the spike on which was not due to tru number of confirmed cases, but rather the inclusion of probable deaths in totals. In fact, New Jersey has continued to experience a downward trend in new infections since mid-May. However, these numbers will only continue their downward trend so long as reopening remains gradual and manageable. While New Jersey began its coronavirus infection as a conjoined epicenter of the outbreak with New York, it has now slowed its spread to a more manageable rate, moving down to 5th highest number of confirmed cases.
While this alteration of their trajectory in severity of the pandemic can be attributed to a smart, decisive, science-led course of action implemented by officials, it will only continue to protect New Jersey residents’ safety if all continue to adhere to the responsible social distancing guidelines and restrictions put in place, and use PPE.
It is scientifically proven that the most responsible thing anyone can do in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is wear a face covering. But not all PPE is created equal. As states like New Jersey continue to reopen, some of them quite responsibly, the responsibility we all carry to protect ourselves and each other still rests on the shoulders of each individual. While wearing masks protects others, guaranteeing your own protection comes down to using equipment such as an N95 mask, which not only prevent the spread of the wearer’s germs, but also protect the wearer from germs from others. Take no risks with the health and safety of you and your loved ones, or anyone else for that matter. Protect yourself with the best equipment available, such as that sold by Clinical Supplies.