coronavirus swab

Ocean County COVID-19 Spike Spurs Testing, Contact Tracing

There have been 1,214 positive COVID-19 test results in Ocean County between Sept. 24 and Sept. 30, with 840 of those cases detected in Lakewood during that timeframe, according to New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, who added that of a statewide total of 796 coronavirus cases announced today, 190 were in Ocean County, with 126 of those cases in Lakewood.

Speaking at a roundtable event today designed to address the emerging scenario, she added that Ocean County’s spot positivity rate is 15.85% and that Lakewood has a spot positive rate of 27.82%; the surrounding municipalities of Lacey, Stafford and Jackson are also seeing increased COVID-19 cases. By comparison, New Jersey’s most recently announced statewide spot positivity rate is 2.74%.

“[Ocean County’s] share of cases as measured per 100,000 residents has far exceeded the statewide average, as has its positivity rate,” Gov. Phil Murphy said today. He added, “… looking at Lakewood and its surroundings, the numbers are certainly deeply concerning. [But] let me perfectly clear: No one is here to point fingers or to cast blame.”

Testing and Contact Tracing

The state has sent two nurses to Ocean County, and a parking lot open-air testing site was described by one official as “jam packed” in the morning. Testing is slated to be held at FirstEnergy Park – home of the BlueClaws minor league baseball team – on Monday, Oct. 5. Lakewood’s public high school is scheduled to hold testing from Wednesday through Saturday of next week.

Some 6,000 rapid-fire COVID-19 tests capable of returning results in approximately 15 minutes have also been deployed to the hotspot, and 20 contact tracers also are focused on addressing the situation, Persichilli said at the event.

She additionally urged state residents to download the COVID Alert NJ app recently made available via a collaboration between New Jersey, New York and Delaware.

Additional Measures

Citing the multi-generational composition of many Ocean County households, Persichilli urged those who are ill to remain in separate household rooms or isolate at alternative locations that have separate bedrooms and bathrooms; she also advised that if sick individuals leave their recovery bedrooms, they should wear face masks and also avoid dining with others. If a person with underlying medical conditions lives in the home, the sick person should isolate at an alternative site to protect that person. Persichilli additionally urged residents to use hand sanitizer, wash their hands and clean frequently touched household surfaces, among other precautions.

Persichilli said of the hotspot, overall, “There is not a single event that is associated with the increase in cases, but, as you know, there have been large religious observances over the past several weeks that may have resulted in prolonged, close contact. And there have been reports of some large gatherings – weddings, funerals – where social distancing and wearing masks may not have been consistently followed.”

Government leaders as well as community leaders present at today’s roundtable discussion appeared eager to abate the situation, including mention of synagogues erecting open-air tents outside their facilities and members of the business community creating signs to remind people of the importance of coronavirus-related precautions.

Separately, Murphy noted that other areas of the state are seeing increased cases, and the statewide coronavirus rate of transmission has risen to 1.19, with 528 New Jersey residents hospitalized at this time – and 98 of those patients in intensive care.

Of the 528 number, Murphy said: “Judy, that’s the first time we are over 500 in quite some time…”

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