New Jersey coronavirus deaths top state’s 9/11 toll

New Jersey has announced another 200 deaths from the coronavirus, with Gov. Phil Murphy saying the state has now lost nearly 100 more residents than it did in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Murphy on Saturday said the “particularly sobering” numbers included another 4,331 positive cases bringing the total to 34,124, and 200 more deaths of residents bringing the total to 846 “precious lives lost.”

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“This pandemic is writing one of the greatest tragedies in our state’s history,” Murphy said. “And just as we have committed to never forgetting those lost on 9/11, we must commit to never forgetting those we are losing to this pandemic.”

Murphy then paused for a moment of silence. On Friday he ordered flags across the state to half-staff indefinitely to commemorate people who died from COVID-19.


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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office)

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state was sending out a crisis alert calling for more volunteers. She said nine hospitals were diverting patients partially or completely Friday night because of staffing issues and critical care bed capacity.

At least one case had been confirmed in New Jersey’s 148 long-term care facilities, Persichilli said. The state has 375 long-term care nursing facilities and about 200 assisted living and residential care homes, she said.

Of the 846 deaths, 61% were male and 39% female. Almost half (46%) were over the age of 80, with about one-third (32%) among ages 65 to 79, Persichilli said. Only four cases had been confirmed among people with no underlying health conditions, while such conditions had been confirmed for 300 cases (or 35%) and were still under investigation in 542 cases, Persichilli said.

Authorities said one person was cited for arranging a youth basketball game with six juveniles in violation of the governor’s executive order to stay at home. Another, taken to the Monmouth County jail in a domestic violence case, was accused of spitting on officers processing him, saying he had the coronavirus — alleged behavior the governor said warranted induction to the “knucklehead hall of shame.”

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.