NEW JERSEY — Nine of New Jersey's 21 counties are in the red zone when it comes to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said in a recent report. Red zones have more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents and a diagnostic test positivity result of above 10 percent.
The reports, while not made public by the task force, have been obtained by The Center for Public Integrity. The most recent report made available is dated Nov. 22.
Overall, New Jersey is classified in the red zone for COVID-19 cases and has since the Nov. 1 report. No counties were classified in the red zone in the Nov. 1 report.
The latest report shows just how sharply the pandemic escalated in November.
According to the Nov. 22 report, the following New Jersey counties are classified in the red zone:
Four counties are listed in the orange zone in the Nov. 22 report. Those include Bergen, Middlesex, Salem and Warren. Counties in the orange zone reported between 51 and 100 new cases per 100,000 residents and a diagnostic test positivity result between 8 and 10 percent.
New Jersey currently has a statewide positivity rate of 9.6 percent, which is the 32nd highest positivity rate in the country, according to the Nov. 22 task force report.
The report also notes that during the week of Nov. 9 - 15, 20 percent of nursing homes had at least one new resident who was diagnosed with the coronavirus, 36 percent at least one staff member who was diagnosed with the disease and 3 percent had at least one new resident who died of COVID-19.
As a result of the accelerating outbreak, the report offers several recommendations to help slow the pandemic's continuing onslaught.
Here are some of the highlights; you can view the full recommendations here (on page 241 of the report):
New Jerseyans have shown that they can fight the virus; the task force is confident that they "will rise to the occasion again."
Conduct active testing in school for teachers and students where cases are increasing. In accordance with CDC guidelines, masks must be worn by students and teachers in K-12 schools.
Consider pausing extracurricular school activities, even though athletics are not transmission risks, as the surrounding activities are where transmission is occurring.
Stay vigilant with nursing home staff and residents; nearly 40 percent of nursing homes have COVID positive staff and over 20 percent have COVID positive residents, indicating unmitigated community spread. Ensure all nursing homes, assisted living, and elderly care sites have full testing capacity and are isolating positive staff and residents.
New hospital admissions in New Jersey are increasing, especially with those over 40 years old.
Ensure all hospitals have expansion and contingency plans and up-to-date treatment protocols, including outpatient management; ensure all hospitals, public and private, have maximal access to medications, supplies, and staffing and are accurately reporting current status of each.
Ensure full flu immunizations across the state.
The latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report for New Jersey comes as cases continue to explode throughout the state.
New Jersey on Wednesday added 4,350 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 346,206. Another 146 confirmed deaths were reported on Dec. 1st and 2nd, the highest two-day total since June.
With reporting by Kara Seymour