State Department of Health unveils 2 ‘worst-case scenarios’ for COVID 2nd wave
Gov. Phil Murphy and state health officials unveiled a “worst-case scenario” for New Jersey’s second wave of COVID-19. Some predictions show that hospitalizations could be worse than the peak in April if basic social distancing doesn’t continue.
“These cannot be normal holidays. There’s no way they can be normal holidays,” Murphy said at his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
To try and drive that point home, health officials unveiled two separate projections of the worst-case scenario for New Jersey’s hospital. As of Wednesday, over 3,500 people were hospitalized for COVID-19. In the direst prediction from the Department of Health, that number would grow to over 8,700 people hospitalized by Jan. 13.
“The peak in the spring on April 14, that was 8,270. Both of those numbers are several hundred higher than we saw at the worst of it in spring,” Murphy said.
Officials said that neither model includes death estimates, but that the models are the latest warning to try to get people to stay the course with social distancing and hygiene as Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve get closer.
"Where more of us use common sense and smart decision-making through the holidays to stay among our immediate households and not take part in indoor gatherings where we know this virus loves to hang out,” Murphy said.
The separate predictions from the Department of Health and Office of Innovation modeled moderate and worst-case scenarios. Both assumed no changes in executive order restrictions.
“Under both models, the number of hospitalizations – while still significant and concerning – would not overwhelm the capacity of our health care system,” the governor said.
The models estimate limited or no impact from the COVID-19 vaccines and continued spread of the virus coming from gatherings, cold weather keeping people indoors and holiday travel.
“We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing until the vaccine comes in and really begins to take effect,” says state Communicable Disease Service medical director Dr. Ed Lifshitz.
The Department of Health's worst-case scenario estimated higher levels of hospitalizations following Christmas than seen after the summer holidays and that each COVID case under investigation in a hospital becomes a confirmed positive.