TRENTON, NJ – We’re not exactly sure what the incubation period is for COVID-19, but Governor Phil Murphy, after nearly a month of solid declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths and folks on respirators, made note of a small uptick on Thursday. At first Murphy linked the uptick to Memorial Day Weekend, but doing the quick math in his head, backtracked out of that side street before hitting a dead end.
“Now, to something which is a little bit troubling and I think it’s fair to say Judy, Ed and their team are going to try to dig in on this, as we all are, there were 365 new hospitalizations yesterday, while 287 live residents left our hospitals. These are each the biggest numbers we’ve seen respectively in a week,” Murphy said on Thursday. “And here are those numbers charted across the regions. As you can see, the big bulk of these were up north, both those going in and those coming out. As I mentioned yesterday, we have expected this increase in new hospitalizations given the weekend, but we are going to watch these numbers closely over the coming days to see if there may be a deeper meaning to them, and I want to pause there for a second.”
First, most hospitalizations were up north, as he said…so keep your hands off the Jersey Shore.
“I don’t mean the weekend in that we were worried that activity took place on the weekend that led to this, although that could be the case. I mean also, and I think Judy is digging in on this, is whether or not we’ve had some lag reporting in the data,” Murphy back-peddled. “I know the hospitals, I believe are in the better to be safe than sorry category. I think, Judy, when somebody walks in the door with pneumonia on the margin, they’re going to assume the worst in terms of what the cause of that is. But this is something, folks, we’ve got to keep an eye on. And I promise you, we will keep an eye on, but for everybody who says open the thing up tomorrow, let’s turn all the lights on, let’s get back to normal. You’ve got 300 and what do we have here? 365 folks going in the hospital yesterday. We’ve got to make sure we are watching this like a hawk.”
“Again, so overall the trajectory remains largely positive. The key metrics that we’re tracking continue to move in the right direction and as you can see, continue to be way down from the peak. And especially over the past couple of weeks, even though we’ve seen some days with spikes, we remain confident in our overall direction. You can see this confidence in each region as the metrics generally follow each other across the state,” he said. “Again, upper left is where Judy, Ed and their teams, and I certainly can speak for myself, that’s what we’re focused on. It’s also why, again, I repeat that we look at three and seven-day rolling averages because you could have a distortion from one day to the next. A green ball means things went down, that’s good. Red ball means it went up. Again, when you’ve got holiday weekends, weekends generally, we need to smooth the data, but new hospitalizations is something that we are very much looking at.”
Who else out there wants to bet that Murphy has money riding on a complete slide back into full pandemic? It sure seems like that sometimes.