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N.J. reports 522 more COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths. Ocean, Monmouth counties remain coronavirus hotspots.

New Jersey on Monday reported two more coronavirus deaths and 522 additional positive tests, as officials continue to warn about recent increases in cases and hospitalizations, with Ocean and Monmouth counties leading the way.

The statewide rate of transmission increased for the eighth consecutive day, to 1.27, well above the key benchmark of 1 that indicates the outbreak here is expanding. The transmission rate has been above 1 for more than a month and is at its highest mark since Aug. 5.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 across the state jumped back about 500 for the first time in two days.

Ocean and Monmouth counties accounted for about one-third of the new cases reported Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy said during his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

Ocean County reported 119 new cases, with 86 of them residents of Lakewood, the county’s largest municipality. Monmouth County had 48 new cases.

“While this virus clearly remains a threat statewide, we continue to keep our eyes on key counties and localities where there are current outbreaks and elevated numbers,” Murphy said. “We remain concerned with Ocean and Monmouth counties, in particular, which account for 167 of the newly reported cases today.”

New Jersey’s statewide positivity rate — the percentage of people who test positive in one day — was 2.62% last Thursday, after it had climbed to 3% at one point last week.

For Ocean County, the positivity rate as of Wednesday was 7.2%. In Lakewood, the rate on Wednesday was 19.5%, down from 28% earlier in the week.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said there were 1,594 new cases over the weekend — 353 from Ocean County. The majority of those who tested positive were in the 30- to 49-year-old age group, followed by 18 to 29.

The latest updates come as state and local local officials investigate whether attendees were infected at a fundraiser President Donald Trump held at his Bedminster golf course Thursday, hours before the president announced he tested positive for the virus.

Murphy on Monday said there’s no evidence of any outbreaks related to the event but noted it’s too early to tell. He also said Trump should have canceled his visit after one of his top aides was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“The knowledge that they had before they left for New Jersey — that there was exposure to a COVID-positive individual — that trip was completely unacceptable, completely reckless, and completely uncalled for,” the governor said.

In addition, Murphy said the state is investigating whether the event violated any of New Jersey’s social-distancing orders.

In addition, former Gov. Chris Christie has been hospitalized after testing positive for the virus, days after helping Trump prepare for the first presidential debate.

New Jersey has reported a total of 208,713 COVID-19 cases out of more than 3.75 million tests administered in the more than seven months since the state announced its first positive test March 4. That’s the ninth most positive tests among American states.

The state of 9 million people has reported 16,138 deaths attributed to the virus in that time — 14,351 lab-confirmed and 1,787 considered probable. New Jersey’s death toll is fourth highest in the U.S., after New York, Texas and California. The state has the nation’s highest COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 residents.

The two new deaths reported Monday occurred on Sept. 26 and 27.

The Garden State’s numbers improved dramatically over the summer after peaking in April, when officials routinely announced hundreds of new deaths and thousands of new cases a day. But officials have been alarmed by an increase in cases and hospitalizations in the weeks following the reopening of indoor dining and gyms, as well as the return of students to classrooms. Deaths, though, have remained relatively stable.

“We need everyone to continue to take this virus with deadly seriousness, because it remains deadly,” Murphy said. “We cannot tolerate reckless behaviors that put families and communities at risk — and which put at risk all the progress we have been making over the past several months.”

Part of the reason for recent surges, officials say, is New Jersey’s large testing capacity. The state has ramped up testing in Ocean County — especially Lakewood Township — of late.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced all non-essential businesses, as well as public and private schools, will close Wednesday in nine zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens that have emerged as recent hotspots.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced all non-essential businesses, as well as public and private schools, will close Wednesday in nine zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens that have emerged as recent hotspots.

Asked if he’d consider doing the same in Lakewood, Murphy said “we reserve the right to take similar steps” as New York is taking.

“I think the word I’ve been using over the past number of days is a scalpel as opposed to a blunt instrument,” Murphy said.

Asked to clarify what that means, the governor said: “Whatever we would do, it would be done with the community or the county, and we’d be looking at some of the things we’ve opened, particularly inside steps we’ve taken, and assessing jointly with community leadership whether or not we should consider some of those steps.”

TRANSMISSION RATE

New Jersey’s latest transmission rate of 1.27 is an increase over the 1.26 announced Sunday. That’s the highest it’s been since 1.32 on Aug. 5.

Any number above 1 means each newly infected person, on average, is spreading the virus to at least one other person. Any number below 1 means the virus is decreasing.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

There were 507 patients across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals with confirmed (320) or suspected (187) COVID-19 cases as of Sunday night. That’s 27 more than the night before.

That includes 102 patients in critical or intensive care (five fewer than the day before), including 34 on ventilators (two more than the day before).

There were 38 coronavirus patients discharged from the state’s hospitals Sunday, according to the state’s dashboard.

Persichilli, the state health commissioner, said Monday officials are “seeing an uptick in hospitalized patients throughout New Jersey.”

AGE BREAKDOWN

Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents that have caught the virus (30.9%), followed by those 50-64 (26.2%), 18-29 (16.8%), 65-79 (13%), 80 and older (8.9%), 5-17 (3.4%), and 0-4 (0.7%).

On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been of residents 80 and older (47.1%), followed by those 65-79 (32.2%), 50-64 (15.9%), 30-49 (4.3%), 18-25 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%), and 0-4 (0.02%).

At least 7,166 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been of residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

COUNTY BY COUNTY NUMBERS (ranked by most new cases)

  • Ocean County: 14,363 positive tests (119 new), 985 confirmed deaths (65 probable)
  • Monmouth County: 12,280 positive tests (48 new), 776 confirmed deaths (92 probable)
  • Bergen County: 22,774 positive tests (39 new), 1,806 confirmed deaths (241 probable)
  • Essex County: 21,365 positive tests (38 new), 1,900 confirmed deaths (229 probable)
  • Middlesex County: 19,943 positive tests (37 new), 1,228 confirmed deaths (202 probable)
  • Union County: 17,903 positive tests (34 new), 1,191 confirmed deaths (167 probable)
  • Atlantic County: 4,257 positive tests (33 new), 245 confirmed deaths (11 probable)
  • Passaic County: 19,269 positive tests (30 new), 1,115 confirmed deaths (141 probable)
  • Camden County: 10,149 positive tests (25 new), 559 confirmed deaths (53 probable)
  • Burlington County: 7,327 positive tests (20 new), 461 confirmed deaths (1 probable)
  • Hudson County: 20,914 positive tests (17 new), 1,359 confirmed deaths (160 probable)
  • Morris County: 7,999 positive tests (16 new), 686 confirmed deaths (144 probable)
  • Gloucester County: 4,796 positive tests (11 new), 223 confirmed deaths (7 probable)
  • Mercer County: 8,732 positive tests (11 new), 601 confirmed deaths (35 probable)
  • Hunterdon County: 1,398 positive tests (10 new), 71 confirmed deaths (54 probable)
  • Somerset County: 5,911 positive tests (7 new), 503 confirmed deaths (74 probable)
  • Cumberland County: 3,815 positive tests (3 new), 152 confirmed deaths (8 probable)
  • Warren County: 1,461 positive tests (2 new), 158 confirmed deaths (13 probable)
  • Cape May County: 1,046 positive tests (1 new), 88 confirmed deaths (9 probable)
  • Sussex County: 1,539 positive tests (1 new), 161 confirmed deaths (36 probable)
  • Salem County: 1,090 positive tests (0 new), 83 confirmed deaths (5 probable)

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

Murphy has been gradually and cautiously easing months-long coronavirus restrictions in recent months as New Jersey’s numbers have improved. He has said the state will need to see sustained decreases to raise capacity limits at restaurants and other businesses.

The pandemic and its aftermath have taken a major toll on the state’s economy. More than 1.63 million residents have filed for unemployment, businesses have lost untold revenue and numerous businesses have closed permanently.

Meanwhile, New Jersey is now asking travelers from 34 U.S. states and territories to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days once they arrive here — including residents returning home.

GLOBAL NUMBERS

As of Monday afternoon, there have been more than 35.3 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.03 million people have died, while more than 24.5 million people have recovered.

The United States has the most positive tests in the world, at more than 7.4 million, and the most deaths, at more than 209,900.

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Brent Johnson may be reached at [email protected].

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