Dr. Anthony Fauci had a terrible prognosis this week for the growing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“December, January and early February will be terribly painful months,” Fauci, the country’s best infectious disease expert, told the New York Times.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy had such a grim opinion, even amid news that many vaccines appear to be effective and may soon be ready for distribution.
So what does this mean for Garden State?
NJ Advance Media talks to experts about what New Jersey residents can expect from the second wave, especially as the holidays approach – and what it means for the economy.
WAVE WAVE SECOND
New Jersey, a densely populated state of 9 million people, is the early epicenter of the pandemic, but in the summer their numbers are declining and stabilizing. However, new cases have risen sharply in recent weeks. The last seven-day average for the new positive tests in the country is 3892, which is 278% more than a month ago and is higher than the first wave of the virus in the spring.
It is difficult to compare the initial outbreak to the second wave, as the state conducted far fewer tests in March and April. So far, daily deaths and hospitalizations are still well below their peak in April, when there were more than 8,000 patients and staff reported hundreds of deaths a day.
But the last numbers are moving in the wrong direction.
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Hospitalizations have tripled more than three times in the last month to 2,505 as of Thursday night, and 71 emergency hospitals are now two-thirds full, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. Daily deaths, the degree of positivity and the rate of transmission are increasing.
“There is potential to get to a point that looks very similar to the beginning of the pandemic,” said Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health. “Models are starting to catch up with the beginning, and that’s disturbing.”
The extent of the second wave depends largely on human behavior, which can be difficult to predict, officials and experts say.
New Jersey can see the next peak at the end of the year – just around Christmas – and with figures that are not close to what we saw in the spring, said State Health Commissioner Judith Persicili this week. But that’s only if enough residents follow safety guidelines and restrictions, such as wearing masks and social distance.
If not, Persicili said, this wave could be worse.
Murphy said the models showed that there could be between 8,000 and 10,000 cases and more than 100 deaths a day if people maintained their “current behavior.”
The governor blamed the criteria for “pandemic fatigue” and people “letting their hair down” in their homes and other private settings, as more activities are moving indoors due to the colder weather.
“We ask people not to leave their guard, to stay strong,” Murphy told CNBC on Thursday. “This virus is dying for us to deceive us.”
Dr Judith Lightfoot, head of infectious diseases at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, said the peak could come sooner, given how fast the state is multiplying.
“I feel that this time things will get worse, although I try to be optimistic,” Lightfoot said of the second wave.
“We do not want to repeat what happened,” she added. “We have enough education. New Jerseys know what to do. “
One trend that could help, officials say, is that younger people are being hospitalized, which will lead to shorter stays, and hospitals have become much better at treating the virus.
Still, hospitals can become “overwhelmed quickly” and have trouble maintaining a large number of health workers who are essential in this battle, “said Corey Bash, chairman of the Department of Public Health at William Patterson University.
Stephanie Silvera, an epidemiologist and professor of public health at Montclair State University, said people “should have a very healthy level of concern about this.”
“We don’t want people to panic,” Silvera said. “But we can’t get people to say it’s not a big deal.”
WHAT ABOUT THE ECONOMY?
The pandemic and its constraints have already wreaked havoc on the economy. Michele Sickerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said 28% of the state’s businesses closed by the end of October, while others were “just lucky if they can make enough money to cover expenses.”
In addition, thousands of residents are still unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. Some are facing possible evictions in the new year.
The situation is likely to get worse if the restrictions are here to stay for a while, let alone if there are more restrictions. That’s why businesses are seeking more help from federal and state governments, even though federal lawmakers in Washington remain at a dead end over a new stimulus package.
If more businesses close, “everything is spiraling,” said Eileen Keane, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
“Unemployment is rising and incomes coming to the state are falling,” Keane said. “It’s a terrible, terrible situation.”
Tom Bracken, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, warned that even after the arrival of the vaccines, it would be a long economic recovery.
“It’s pretty gloomy,” Bracken said. “Once the business closes, it’s not so easy to start over.
The holiday season is especially disturbing as people travel and mingle with others outside their balloon. Canada, which celebrates Thanksgiving a month before the United States, saw cases jump two weeks after the holiday.
“I think this is the only day that could potentially cost us months to come,” said Halkitis, Rutgers’ dean, for Thanksgiving.
The Federal Centers for Disease Control is urging Americans to stay home for the holiday. Murphy wants the New Jersey to celebrate only with their close families.
The same should apply to the December holidays, experts say.
Murphy has taken several new steps to combat proliferation. He ordered indoor bars and restaurants in New Jersey to close daily at 10 p.m., and canceled interstate indoor sports until high school. Indoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people, out of 25, and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 150, out of 500, starting Monday.
So far, the governor has stopped the state order for a stay at home and the huge closure of the business, which he did in March. But he did not rule that out.
“We will stop if we think this will directly affect the show,” Murphy told MSNBC on Thursday. “We are constantly looking at all our options.”
Silvera, a professor at Moncler, said it was probably necessary to stop more “high-risk activity” when people gather indoors. She will not be shocked if the indoor dining room closes and all schools return to fully virtual learning.
“These are areas where people come together,” Silvera said.
Until now, Murphy has resisted ordering schools close across the country, saying school broadcast numbers are better than expected.
“The school experience in New Jersey has been so good so far,” he said Thursday.
On the positive side, news of coronavirus vaccines has become clearer in recent weeks. Pfizer announced Friday that it is applying to the Federal Food and Drug Administration for permission to use their vaccine urgently. And if approved, Murphy said New Jersey expects to receive its first shipment of about 130,000 doses “around Christmas, with more to come.”
Moderna is expected to follow with its own vaccine shortly thereafter, said Persici, state commissioner for health. There should be 460,000 doses of vaccine in the country by early January, she said on Friday.
At the first of the three-phase commissioning, initial doses are expected for health workers, people aged 65 and over, people with pre-existing medical conditions, people living in group conditions such as prisons and psychiatric hospitals, and key workers who may not practice socially. distancing.
There must be “enough” for the population to be vaccinated by April or May, Persicili said.
The ultimate goal is for 70% of the adult population of New Jersey to be vaccinated. This means that about 81,000 residents will have to be vaccinated every day for five days a week.
“The news is really good for development,” Murphy said Friday. “The distribution is quite complicated. … We need to make sure we’ve collected all the oars. “
Writers from NJ Advance Media staff Karin Price Mueller and Jonathan D. Salant contributed to this report.
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