Phil Murphy: 5,542 new COVID-19 cases, 51 more dead after indoor holiday gatherings

TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday announced 5,542 new COVID-19 cases and 51 new confirmed deaths, saying those incidents could be linked to residents gathering with each other indoors over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

“We are also announcing 5,042 more positive PCR tests today, as well as another 540. Again, we use the word presumed positive antigen rapid tests for a consolidated cumulative total of 590,165 which breaks down to 532,959 PCR tests and 57,206 antigen tests,” Murphy said.

The positivity rate for all of the 49,724 PCR tests recorded last Thursday, January 7th was 11.32%. The statewide rate of transmission for Monday was  1.09.

“Let’s stop here for a moment. The transmission rate is once again above the benchmark of one, meaning an increasing spread of this virus. Now if we look at our calendars, we note that it is January 11th. We had anticipated, as I said, an increase in positive tests coming out of the holidays and it is safe to say that we are now experiencing that increase. This is likely from indoor gatherings where neither social distancing nor wearing a face mask were adhered to,” Murphy said. This is what we were afraid of,  people letting their guard down over Christmas and New Year’s and spreading the virus among their families and friends. For the next upcoming days, we’re probably going to see the impact of this now.”

The recent increase in positive tests has not yet led to a spike in hospitalizations, Murphy said . As of last night, there were 3,653 total patients being treated in New Jersey hospitals. 3,402 of them were known COVID, 251 were persons under investigation awaiting tests.

“We are announcing, with a heavy heart, an additional 51 confirmed COVID-related deaths today, bringing the cumulative total of confirmed deaths to 17,873. Another 2,059 deaths remained listed as probable,” he added.