New Jersey reported 637 new coronavirus positive tests and one additional death on Sunday as the state’s rate of transmission climbed for the 7th consecutive day and has remained above the key benchmark indicating the outbreak is expanding for the past month.
Ocean County, a COVID-19 hotspot that has emerged in recent weeks, once again led the state with 150 new cases. Gov. Phil Murphy traveled to the county on Friday to discuss the ongoing outbreak there, which has been linked to Lakewood and its significant Orthodox Jewish community.
The statewide rate of transmission increased to 1.26, up from 1.24 a day earlier and marking a week of steady increases. The transmission rate was 1.11 last Sunday. Any number above 1 indicates that each new case, on average, is leading to at least one additional case and the outbreak is growing. The rate remains is now the highest it’s been since 1.32 on Aug. 5.
Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 across the state remained below 500 for the second day, with 480 patients across 71 hospitals.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the latest figures on social media. He did not reveal when the newly reported deaths occurred.
The update comes as the state continues an investigation into whether people were infected at a fundraiser President Donald Trump held at his Bedminster golf course Thursday, hours before he announced he tested positive for the virus. Everyone in attendance has been asked to self-quarantine and get tested, Murphy said. As many as 300 people attended the fundraiser, and some paid for a photo opportunity with the president.
Trump remained Sunday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors say his condition is improving and he could be discharged by Monday.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tested positive for the virus on Friday, after spending time with Trump for the presidential debate on Tuesday and attending the formal nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Christie, who has asthma, was admitted to Morristown Medical Center in what he called a preventative measure Saturday afternoon.
Fellow New Jersey natives Kellyanne Conway, a former Trump advisor, and Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, have also tested positive for the virus.
New Jersey has reported a total of 208,202 COVID-19 cases out of more than 3.73 million tests administered in the nearly seven months since the state announced its first positive test March 4. That’s the eight most positive tests among American states.
The state of 9 million people has reported 16,136 deaths attributed to the virus in that time — 14,349 lab-confirmed and 1,787 considered probable. The state’s death toll is third highest in the U.S., after New York and Texas, which recently surpassed New Jersey. California is closely behind New Jersey, with 11 fewer deaths. The Garden State has the nation’s highest COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 residents.
New Jersey’s daily numbers have decreased dramatically over the summer after peaking in April, when officials routinely announced hundreds of new deaths