From the Desk of the Mayor
Harrison Township, New Jersey
May 13, 2020
Since my last update on Monday, the statewide number of positive cases has increased to 141,560, an increase of 1,615. We have lost 392 more New Jersey residents, bringing that total to 9,702.
In Gloucester County, the positive case total has reached 1,728, an increase of only 35 since Monday. The negative test case number is now 6,180, which lowers our positive test rate to 21.8%. Sadly, 12 more county residents have succumbed to the virus bringing that total to 96. As a community, we keep all those lost and their families in our hearts.
In Harrison, our positive case number increased by 1 to 43. You are all doing an amazing job. Stay the course as we seek to transition.
The County will conduct its sixth Drive-Thru Test Event at RCSJ beginning at 10AM.
CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS LIFTED
As part of New Jersey’s Road Back, today, the Governor signed Executive Order 142, permitting the resumption of non-essential construction, curbside pickup at non-essential retail businesses, and car gatherings for the purpose of drive-through and drive-in events. The construction and non-essential retail provisions will take effect at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, while the car gatherings provision will take effect immediately.
We are pleased with this action and the transitional aspect of it, as we have lobbied for such considerations in recent weeks. Permitting non-essential construction projects and curbside pickup retail operations is a safe step in the re-opening plan.
THE DEFINITION OF RECOVERED FROM COVID-19
In the reporting I share with you, I don’t include the number of people who have “recovered” from the virus, as you may notice. The simple explanation for that is the Department of Health (DOH) does not include that information in its reporting. The reason they don’t report it relates to the official definition of “recovered” by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). There are two official criteria to be met in order to be deemed recovered by the CDC; they are Medical and Testing criteria.
The Medical Requirement is achieved when a person goes fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days since the symptoms began.
In addition, the CDC “recovered” guidelines include a Testing Requirement. They state that after becoming asymptomatic, a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the tests taken at least 24 hours apart. Only then, if both the medical and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC. This Testing Requirement is likely why there were so few “official” recovered cases being reported in the US until recently. As we know, initially, there was a massive shortage of testing in the US.
So, while the majority of people are obviously recovering from the virus, this post-virus testing criteria limits the ability to officially confirm that. As the country continues to deal with the height of the pandemic, the focus is still on testing those who are infected, not those who have likely recovered. Hence, the number who have “officially recovered” (by CDC standards) is not known right now.
AN EDUCATED ESTIMATE FORMULA
It is possible, however, to surmise how many of the positive cases reported have recovered, even if they haven’t met the CDC Testing Requirement. By doing the math on the “medical” criteria of the recovery formula, we can derive an educated estimate. Here’s how:
Once a person tests positive for the virus, they must follow the DOH protocols of self-quarantining and symptom monitoring. One of two things will happen at that point: 1. They either improve and the symptoms fade and disappear. Or, 2. Their symptoms get worse and they require hospitalization and more urgent treatment. In this category, bluntly, you either recover (which most do) or you don’t. Agreed?
This is where some educated speculation is required. Medical professionals cannot state the absolute duration of this virus. It will vary from person to person. So, we don’t definitively know how long it will take for a person who tests positive (and eventually will recover) to become asymptomatic (no longer exhibiting symptoms). But the average expectation of that cycle is 7-10 days max (many lose all symptoms within a couple days).
Therefore, in my educated speculation process, let’s assume it takes 14 days for a person (whose condition is improving) to become asymptomatic. If you wanted to be more conservative, you could assume that cycle takes 21 days.
THE MATH TO UNDERSTAND HOW MANY HAVE RECOVERED
Applying that logic to the daily reported numbers of positive tests and deaths gives us a formula to determine the number of people who have recovered from the virus. You simply subtract the number of deaths from the number of total positive cases that are more than 14 (or 21?) days old. That answer is a good estimate of the number who have recovered from the virus.
Let’s relate this logic/formula to the real numbers I report to you with every update. Two weeks (14 days) ago today, on April 29th, the reporting showed there had been 116,264 total positive tests statewide. Today’s report (above) shows the total death toll has reached 9,702. The difference between the two numbers is 106,562. Based on this educated estimate formula I’ve outlined, that means that approximately 106,562 New Jersey residents have recovered from the virus.
Though it’s not perfect, this educated assumption is the best we can do for now. Until we test every single person (twice) who initially tested positive, after they no longer exhibit symptoms, the CDC standard of being “recovered” cannot be confirmed.
A MESSAGE FROM SJ GAS
As the warmer weather sets in and we look forward to the eventual re-opening of New Jersey, South Jersey Gas would like to remind us to Call 811 before any digging projects commence, whether commercial or residential.
Every nine minutes, an underground utility is damaged due to failure to obtain a free mark-out. South Jersey Gas, specifically, has seen an increase in these type damages over the last six weeks, many of them related to homeowners and small contractors doing excavations without calling for the required mark-outs.
Please adhere to this rule (it’s actually a law) and call 811 for a mark-out before proceeding with any digging projects. It’s free! This will ensure a smooth and timely response since SJ Gas will not be busy repairing damages caused by this oversight.
HOME IMPROVEMENT IN THE HILL
So of course, adhering to existing laws and executive orders law, I would like to encourage everyone to check out this week’s Digital Main Street program, Home Improvement. There are plenty of local businesses available to assist you with any number of different projects around your house. Please continue to support the businesses that support us!
LOCAL TRASH COLLECTION SCHEDULE CHANGE
Please note the change in trash/recycle collection for the week of May 25th due to the Memorial Day holiday. The Monday route will be pushed back to Tuesday, Tuesday’s route is pushed back to Wednesday and there is NO bulk collection that week on Wednesday. The Thursday and Friday routes remain unaffected.
Together for Harrison Township,