This story was written and produced by NJ Spotlight. It is being republished under a special NJ News Commons content-sharing agreement related to COVID-19 coverage. To read more, visit njspotlight.com
The number of cases surpassed 100 on March 16, the day Gov. Phil Murphy imposed the first expansive social-distancing measures that included closing all schools, casinos, gyms and limiting public gatherings to fewer than 50. Within five days, positive tests exceeded 1,000. On Saturday they hit five digits.
On Sunday, the state reported 13,386 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus; this represented a more than 20% increase over the previous day. New Jersey ranks second in the nation, behind only New York, in the number of people testing positive and is responsible for roughly one in 10 cases in the United States, as charted by Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus COVID-19 global tracker. More than 700,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide since the outbreak of the disease late last year in the Hubei province of China.
Some of the increase in New Jersey is likely due to the expanded testing and greater reporting of results by private labs. Yet the number of positive tests probably only captures a portion of the actual number of people who have gotten COVID-19, as some with mild symptoms probably didn’t get or aren’t getting tested. New Jersey has testing sites in two of the hardest hit counties — Bergen and Monmouth — and larger counties have opened their own sites. Close to 36,000 have been tested, with close to 40% testing positive.
Murphy and state Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli have said they had expected the increase in cases and anticipate that will continue for at least a time, as the virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days and Murphy’s strictest social-distancing order — that all residents stay at home except for essential trips — came just nine days ago on March 21.
On average, 15 of every 10,000 New Jerseyans had tested positive as of Sunday. Bergen County had both the most cases, 2,169, and the greatest rate, 23.3 per 10,000 people, followed by Essex County. Bergen is the most populous county and Essex is the second-most densely populated. New Jersey’s least populous county, Salem, had both the fewest cases, with three, and its infection rate of less than ½ per 10,000 was the smallest.
As of Sunday, deaths attributed to COVID-19 numbered 161 in New Jersey, 2,351 in the United States and more than 33,000 around the globe. The death rate worldwide was about 4.8% and 1.2% in New Jersey.
NJ Spotlight is plotting cases and deaths reported by county and statewide daily to track the spread of the viral disease. Readers can check here for map and graphic updates daily.