TRENTON, NJ – With time at a premium for millions of New Jersey residents looking to get back to work or reopen their businesses, Governor Phil Murphy’s roadmap to reopen relies on science and data. On Thursday, Murphy admitted that one of his key indicators of when to reopen is days, if not weeks behind the curve. Each day, Murphy announces how many “souls” were lost overnight, but on Thursday, he admitted, that’s not quite how it works. Fatality figures given by the governor are days, sometimes weeks behind. In many cases, as Murphy reads off the roll-call of those who perished to the disease, in some cases those deaths occurred one to two weeks before his announcement.
Murphy’s Daily Death Count Could be almost one month behind?
On Thursday, Murphy remembered Howard Arnesen, of Cranford. Mr. Arneson passed away on April 24th. Another sad pair of deaths reported by Murphy on Friday were those of father and daughter Dr. Satyender Dev Khanna and Dr. Priya Khanna. They both passed April 21st and April 13th. That delay hasn’t gone unnoticed by members of the media who questioned Murphy about the delay. One reporter asked the governor why he is the date of confirmed death instead of the actual date of death when correlating the figures that are critical to the reopening of New Jersey. Essentially, the reporter was asking the Governor why we’re not using actual numbers and that the state’s figures could be a week or more behind. Every day is critical to those who need to get back to work.
“I think that we’ve been clear on this when we report as we did today, 254 fatalities, that does not mean 254 people died since yesterday at 2 o’clock, you’re correct,” Murphy said.
NJ COVID-19 Death Data Out of Sync?
Dr. Edward Lifshitz, a Medical Director at the New Jersey Department of Health, agreed with Murphy, even admitted that Murphy’s daily death toll is not the most accurate way to get a real-time sense of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lifshitz said the state awaits death confirmations from long-term care facilities, so if the care facility doesn’t immediately report the death, the state’s published figures also fall behind. In reality, Lifshitz said, the data released during today’s press conference could be figures that reflect New Jersey’s status a week ago, possibly even longer.
“You are absolutely correct that in a lot of ways that the date that it’s being reporting is not the most accurate way to get a sense about what’s happening,” Lifshitz said. He added that New Jersey’s COVID-19 deaths peaked roughly two weeks ago or so.