April 8, 2020

COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise, Looking for Peak

By Donald Gilpin

With 43 cases of COVID-19 in Princeton (31 active positive cases, 11 recovered and released from isolation), including one death last week, of a 92-year-old woman, Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser reflected cautiously on the current status of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Data coming from around the state is telling us that coronavirus-related deaths in New Jersey have started to flatten,” Grosser wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon. “This does not mean that we have accomplished our goal, but we have started to see early positive effects of social distancing efforts in Princeton, Mercer County, and throughout the state.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy stated Monday that health officials are beginning to see a decline in the growth rate of new COVID-19 cases, signs that the curve is flattening. He cited projections that a peak in new cases in New Jersey could come between April 19 and May 11, but he re-emphasized the urgency of New Jersey residents continuing to practice social distancing and to stay at home.

Grosser, on the front lines in Princeton’s battle with the disease, observed, “It’s still somewhat too early to tell, but it seems that the percentage increases of new cases are beginning to slow down, which then should lead to less hospitalization, less intensive care, and then less death.”

He continued on a warning note, “We need to be cautious even coming close to declaring a victory yet. There are still individuals out there who are going to transmit the virus, and we (Princeton Health Department) will not let up or let the community let up on our great efforts thus far until we protect everyone from this virus. The efforts of the community have been tremendous thus far and we are too close to turning a corner to let up now.”

Grosser went on to comment on the challenges facing hospitals. “The surge of coronavirus-related hospitalizations will continue to put stress on our health care system in the coming weeks,” he said. “It may get worse than where we are today, and that is not unexpected based upon the lag of hospitalizations compared to new cases.”

Grosser urged residents to stay the course. “Every member of our community has an opportunity to be a hero by abiding by the governor’s stay-at-home order,” he said. “We all can help our doctors, nurses, and first responders by simply staying home and avoiding the coronavirus. What says ‘community’ more than all doing the same thing to protect one another?”

In his April 7 press briefing, Murphy reported 232 new deaths from the coronavirus, the highest one-day increase so far in the state, with 3,361 new positive tests in the previous 24 hours. Total cases in the state, second highest in the country after New York, hit 44,416 Tuesday, with a total of 1,232 deaths.

Mercer County continued to report sharply rising infection totals, with 837 positive cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, 90 more in the previous 24 hours, and a total of 24 deaths in Mercer County, five more than Monday’s total.

For more information, visit princetoncovid.org or covid19.nj.gov.