N.J.’s Hot Spot Bergen County Sees Major Virus Rate Slowdown

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(Bloomberg) --

Huge daily infection spikes are slowing in Bergen County, with New Jersey’s most Covid-19 cases, another big sign that the curve is flattening, Governor Phil Murphy said.

Bergen, across the Hudson River from New York City, has more than 8,000 cases, and its infections had doubled every couple of days as the virus took hold. Infections there and in Salem County, in southern New Jersey, now are doubling every seven days or more.

“Those are two important early signs,” Murphy said Friday at a press briefing.

As his administration struggles to slow the outbreak, it’s also navigating a budget process upended by the virus’ unknown toll on revenue. Murphy extended the April 15 tax deadline by three months and shifted the June 30 budget due date to Sept. 30. The governor, who has proposed a record $40.9 billion in spending, said Friday he is considering his constitutional power to borrow without voter approval amid an act of God.

The process was “something we are looking closely at,” Murphy said.

New Jersey, which trails New York with the second-highest number of U.S. infections, reported cases rose 7% overnight to 54,588. For six days increases have been 10% or less, after statewide spikes of as much as 56% toward the end of March.

The state reported an additional 233 fatalities, for a cumulative total of 1,932. In all, 390 fatalities have been reported in Bergen, New Jersey’s most populous county, with about one in nine residents.

New Jersey has 7,570 people hospitalized for Covid-19 treatment, and 1,663 are on ventilators. In the past 24 hours, 682 patients were discharged, according to the state.

The governor said he would sign an executive order to allow temporary home confinement of some prisoners who were set to be released within the next three months, and to speed up parole hearings. Those convicted of serious crimes won’t be eligible, he said.

Murphy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have urged residents to continue staying indoors and avoiding gathering, particularly during the long Easter and Passover holiday weekend, as the outbreak appears to be nearing its peak.

“We have to leave the gathering to Facetime or Zoom,” Murphy said. “Many of us will fire up our laptop for a livestream service.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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