Gov. Phil Murphy insisted Monday that New Jersey residents need to continue to strictly adhere to his orders to stay home and practice social distancing to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but he said officials are beginning to see some encouraging news as he offered projection charts for the peak in coronavirus cases for the first time.
“What you’re doing is making a difference. We have enough data now to say that comfortably,” Murphy said during his daily coronavirus press briefing, while cautioning that any wavering in that effort could produce disastrous results.
“We’ll be overwhelmed, like a tsunami,” Murphy said, referencing a worst case scenario.
State officials are beginning to see signs the so-called curve in the state is beginning to level out and the peak in cases could happen between late April and early May, Murphy said.
“(There’s been) a decline in the growth rate of new cases from 24% day over day on March 30th to roughly 12% day-over-day today,” the governor said.
He made the announcement as New Jersey’s deaths from the coronavirus increased to 1,003, while the state’s total COVID-19 positive tests jumped to at least 41,090.
The latest coronavirus numbers revealed on the state Department of Health’s website show 3,663 new coronavirus cases in the state and another 86 deaths.
Murphy, however, insisted the state needs to continue to follow the drastic measures he put in place to prevent the curve from shooting back up — including orders for New Jersyans to stay home, refrain from social gatherings, and close non-essential businesses until further notice.
“This is no time to spike any footballs or take our foot off the gas,” the governor said. “This is not over, and not by a long shot.”
The projected infection chart revealed by Murphy showed an 86,000-case peak as a best-case scenario with social distancing, or a 509,000-case peak as a worst-case scenario. The peak would be between April 19 and May 11, according to the chart.
New Jersey is two weeks into Murphy’s order for an “aggressive push for social distancing” and other lockdown measures.
“We have to take it seriously,” the governor said.
“While we are not anywhere close to being out of the woods just of yet, we are clearly on the right path to get there,” he added. "Our efforts to flatten the curve are starting to pay off.”
The projections also said the peak number of hospitalizations in New Jersey could come between April 10 and April 28.
"It will be tough and it will be stressful, but our health system can get through this intact,” Murphy said.
On Saturday, Murphy announced the state’s death toll from the virus already surpassed the number of New Jersey residents who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The governor also warned Sunday New Jersey’s battle against the coronavirus will get worse before things get better and that the state should brace for what will be “a really challenging” couple of weeks ahead. Murphy and state officials had spent the better part of Sunday “trying to get our arms around” when the state could expect to hit the apex in the number of positive cases and the number of people reported having died each day from COVID-19.
He has said the effects of the pandemic will “spill meaningfully into the summer.”