You can slice it any number of ways, but the bottom line is clear: The coronavirus is again on the move in New Jersey.
One figure the state watches closely is rate of transmission (Rt), or the number of people to whom an infected person is expected to spread the virus. If you hold that number below 1 for long enough, as logic would dictate, the virus will eventually die out.
Unfortunately, that is not the case at the moment in New Jersey. Of the state’s 21 counties, 18 as of Wednesday had an Rt above 1, with the statewide figure at 1.25, according to an NJ Advance Media analysis. Only Salem, Monmouth and — perhaps surprisingly given recent struggles — Ocean counties are seeing the virus slowing.
The state does not release Rt by county, so NJ Advance Media analyzed the data to look at the figure on a smaller scale. It’s important to note that in areas with smaller numbers of cases, the Rt can jump with only a few new infections added to the count.
The rates are most alarming in Warren and Essex counties, where one infected person is spreading COVID-19 to more than one and a half others, on average.
Deaths have climbed in recent days as well. On Aug. 6, the seven-day average for new daily deaths dropped below 10, and that’s where the figure remained for about two and a half months. Until Friday. The state has averaged more than 10 new deaths per day for the past couple of weeks.
For now, it remains a far cry from the hundreds of deaths per day that were being recorded at the height of the pandemic in New Jersey.
Given the way hospitalizations are climbing, more deaths could follow. The number of people in New Jersey’s 71 hospitals due to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 popped up over 1,000 on Wednesday.
That’s a threshold for hospitalizations that the state had not seen since July 3. The number dropped as low as 349 on Sept. 21, just over a month ago, and has now nearly tripled since.
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.
NJ Advance Media developer Arjun Kakkar contributed to this report.
Nick Devlin is a reporter on the data & investigations team. He can be reached at [email protected].
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.