Is New Jersey’s Daily COVID-19 Positivity Rating Being Skewed by High Ratings in LTC, Nursing Homes and State Run Veterans Homes?

TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichili on Friday announced that one of the reasons New Jersey’s positivity remains above the one percent threshhold, now at 1.42 percent is because of high positivity ratings in long term care facilities.

Are the daily figures released by Governor Phil Murphy being skewed by the higher rate of infection in those facilities?  It would be more honest for the New Jersey Department of Health to provide a more accurate assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic by splitting the numbers from long term care facility figures from the general population figures.

The state has been conducting tests in nursing homes, veterans’ homes, prisons and state-run care facilities.   Those facilities have a much higher positivity rating than the state total.   New Jersey’s homeless population has a positivity rate of 9%.   State run veterans homes have a positivity rate double the state total at 3%

“We have focused on vulnerable populations with long-term care as a priority. We have performed 587,000 tests of long-term care staff, returning a 1% positivity and 355,000 tests on residents with a 2% positivity. Approximately 23,000 tests have been performed in our developmentally disabled facilities and group homes, with a 2% positivity,” Persichili said. “Our psychiatric hospitals continue to test regularly and report over 6,000 total tests performed with an average 10% positivity in the patients. The veterans homes have a run a total of 21,000 tests, returning a 3% positivity.”

Persichilli said correctional facilities are in the third phase of testing their entire populations, including their vendors, and to date have run 154,000 tests. This past week they completed 4,168 individual tests, 32 returned positive.

New Jersey’s federally qualified health centers have performed over 90,000 tests of the uninsured and underinsured and homeless population, with a positivity rate of 9%. This includes nearly 5,000 seasonal workers. We are in the process of running a pilot at our homeless shelters. We have tested 324 individuals with point-of-care testing with no reported positive results.

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