Incidental COVID now at 61% in New Jersey, Commissioner accused of misrepresenting data as a scare tactic

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TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Department of Health Commission Judith Persichilli, who needs no introduction, today revealed that New Jersey’s incidental COVID-19 hospitalization rate is 61%. Previously Persichilli said that number was about 50%.

Incidental COVID-19 hospitalizations refer to patients who arrive at a hospital for conditions other than COVID-19 related illnesses, treatments, or procedures, but test positive for COVID-19 upon admittance to the hospital.

That means a person with a broken leg, if they test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the hospital, they are recorded as a COVID-19 hospitalization, even if they were asymptomatic. Only 39% of people hospitalized in New Jersey are diagnosed with COVID-19 as their primary illness.

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Persichilli was also accused today of using child COVID-19 deaths, a small number of which have occurred, but many of which are also identified as incidental, as a scare tactic to scare parents into vaccinating their young children.

News 12 reported Alex Zdan asked Governor Phil Murphy and Persichilli if the state is misrepresenting COVID-19 data as a scare tactic.

Murphy said it’s a mistake to assume that the incidental COVID-19 cases can have no health impact, “When we know, of course, they do.”

State Medical Director Ed Lifshitz said COVID-19 numbers are now less accurate said if COVID-19 becomes a common cold, he won’t care about case rates.

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“We use the term incidental, which is kind of a misnomer because it’s really co-morbid condition when COVID becomes a co-morbid condition,” Persichilli said. “That really is not the appropriate term. We believe the trend is improving, but I would not consider COVID-19 as just an incidental diagnosis, but a co-morbid condition that could be a contributing factor complicating your hospital stay and outcome.”

Murphy called for a national rebranding of the term, “We didn’t come up with that one.