April 16, 2020
Coronavirus cases are doubling at faster rates in Cumberland and Salem counties than elsewhere in New Jersey – despite the vast majority of COVID-19 cases appearing in the northern part of the state.
Confirmed cases are doubling every every seven days or less in both counties, Gov. Phil Murphy said during his daily briefing Thursday. In the other 19 counties, cases are doubling, at the fastest, on a weekly basis.
But no New Jersey counties are seeing their COVID-19 cases double in every five days or less – an encouraging sign that the state is flattening the curve of infections. But Murphy urged residents against letting up on social distancing.
“We’re not home yet by any means, but our efforts are working,” Murphy said. “That’s good news. It means that we’re aggressively slowing the transmission of COVID-19.”
Despite their higher infection rates, Cumberland and Salem counties have a relatively small number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Cumberland County has 223 cases, the third-lowest total in the state. Salem County has the lowest total, with 95 cases. Cumberland County has the fewest coronavirus-related deaths, with three. Salem County has four.
New Jersey reported another 4,391 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 75,317. There have been 3,518 deaths. The five other South Jersey counties have 4,214 cases and 153 deaths.
Dr. Rich Besser, the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have been appointed as New Jersey’s representatives to the seven-state regional council tasked with developing a plan to reopen the economy.
Besser, who grew up in Princeton, has served the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation since 2017. He previously served as the acting director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and as the chief medical expert at ABC News.
Johnson ran the Homeland Security department during President Barack Obama’s second term in the White House.
“We’re blessed to have two folks like this in New Jersey to begin with, and we’re further blessed by their willingness to step up and serve,” Murphy said. “They will make a real difference. We could not have two better professionals, two better New Jerseyans standing up in our regard.”
The multi-state panel, which includes Pennsylvania and Delaware, will consider economic, social and scientific data to reopen the Northeast while minimizing the risk of future infection surges.
The 21-person council will consist of three individuals representing each state: the governor’s chief of staff, an economic development expert and a public health expert. Murphy’s chief of staff George Helmy will serve on the panel alongside Besser and Johnson.
New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are also part of the council.