Over 61% of hospital cases reported in New Jersey are not COVID-19 related

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TRENTON, NJ – New data released by the New Jersey Department of Health and Governor Phil Murphy shows that only 39% of the reported COVID-19 hospitalizations are in fact primarily COVID-19 hospitalizations. The other 61%, according to the state and the governor are identified as “incidental COVID-19”, meaning the patient checked into the hospital for another illness, but tested positive for COVID-19 at the time. Many of those patients didn’t even know they carried the virus. Others were asymptomatic, showing no signs or symptoms when they checked in for traumatic emergencies, in-patient procedures and other medical conditions such as cancer treatments and elective surgeries.

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.

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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.

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.

“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.”

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