State Epidemiologist Says New Jersey at Beginning of “New Wave” of COVID-19 Pandemic

TRENTON, NJ – State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan said on Monday that New Jersey is entering a “new wave” of the COVID-19 virus pandemic when pressed by reporters at Governor Phil Murphy’s daily state COVID-19 briefing.

“To the question about the first wave, second wave, I would be with the Governor and with the commissioner that whether or not we characterize this as part of a continuum of the first wave that we saw back in March and April versus this being the beginning of a new wave, so to speak, the fact is that we’ve got a lot of activity going on right now,” Dr. Tan said. “What’s most important is taking some actionable steps in terms of making sure that we maintain vigilance with the measures that we know that we need to take to keep these numbers down, as well as to continuously monitor what’s going on in the community if we can identify any other steps that we can take to prevent illness.”

Governor Phil Murphy said he doesn’t spend much time trying to put a name on what is happening or where New Jersey is in the virus timeline, but acknowledged, whatever it is that is happening now, isn’t a good direction for the state.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time wondering about whether this is the end of the first or the beginning of the second. I just know that the numbers, you know, just again, positive cases from today back over the past five days, 1,192, 1,282, 958, 823, 973, that’s five days and my eyeballs tell me it’s about 5,000 cases,” Governor Murphy said. “Yeah, I do think spot positivity is up. It’s at 3.36%. That looks, eyeballing over the past week, to be a hair above what the average has been, but it does tell you we’re testing a lot of people, which is to your third point. The RT has been literally stuck in a band of 1.15 to 1.8 for the past week. I guess today it went down a hair to 1.14, but my data tells me it’s a little fresher than the spot positivity. The spot positivity is as of tests taken on the 15th, the RT was as of October 17th.”

Dr. Judith Persichili, who needs absolutely no introduction whatsoever, after signing an order in March to force long term care facilities to begin taking in recovering COVID-19 patients that lead to the deaths of thousands saw things differently.  Persichili said she didn’t see this as a new wave, but a continuation of constant planning and vigilance for a second wave.

“‘I’ve never stopped working with the hospitals. We never considered the wave to be over and every day at 10:00 a.m. we review again their stockpiling, particularly for PPE. We review their bed utilization,” Persichili said. “We know every day, how many available beds we have and how many available Intensive Care Unit beds we have. Additionally, we have maintained all of our waivers to allow them to expand their bed complement, particularly their critical care bed complement, at a moment’s notice. We additionally are working with them on staffing plans to build up to contingency or crisis staffing, if they need it. It’s an everyday event we’re working with the hospitals and preparing with them every step of the way. They report every night at 10:00 p.m. so we know every morning at 10:00 a.m. exactly where they are.”