New Jersey Surge Approximately 1 Week Behind New York
As of 4 April 2020 more citizens of New Jersey have died of SARS-CoV-2 than died in the 9/11/2001 attacks.
The eastern part of the state of New Jersey abuts New York City, whereas the western part abuts Philadelphia. If we assume that New York City is the reservoir – or major source of infections that spread out into surrounding areas – New Jersey sits between New York City and Philadelphia. They’re shielding in some regards. New Jersey is predicted to be 1 week behind New York’s recent infection surge. Philadelphia may follow, with Pittsburgh 2 weeks after that based on the 1918 model.
The New Jersey Health Department is carefully tracking cases (image below). The majority of deaths and cases have been in the New York City metropolitan area. Cases have shown need for medical intervention – see below.
What Is Preventing The Curve From Flattening?
Factors Unique to New Jersey
New Jersey is a special state. From the Jersey Shore through Hoboken to the rural borders with Pennsylvania and the beautiful southern parks and rural areas along the Atlantic Ocean and bay – New Jersey is a unique state that saw no action during the Civil War, and is filled with a unique mix of immigrant heritage through history. This mix shares deep rooted values in family, multigenerational gatherings, faith, and the importance of extended family as caregivers, making New Jersey vulnerable to coronavirus.
Places of Worship
I get that we need to think about Easter. Stay home if you can. All places of worship are closed in the state of New Jersey.
Parts of the state of New Jersey are taking social distancing very seriously. Parts, surprisingly close to Philadelphia, are not. The tourist areas of New Jersey are taking social distancing more seriously, and have issued advisories urging those with vacation homes not to come.
The C in decrease in average distance traveled is not surprising with a rural population in the state. As I do analyses on state like Arizona and Montana I will argue against that measure because in Montana we’ve been doing social distancing since before it was cool, but we have to drive 5 hours to get anywhere.
Overall, New Jersey, keep up with the social distancing and work on the Philadelphia side of things hopefully.
New Jersey and 1918
In 1918 the Influenza Pandemic spread out from Philadelphia to New York City, not from New York City to Philadelphia. Due to this lack of congruency and the increase in connectedness of both cities via mass transit, it is more likely that New Jersey will see 1-2 peaks entirely dependent on those of New York City and Philadelphia. The visibility of that separation is entirely dependent on the state of New Jersey flattening the curve between those two outbreaks.
Is New Jersey Really Showing No Signs of Slowing?
I decided to break this down into 2 milestones: 100 cases and 1000 cases. I then compared the growth in cumulative cases to present from each.
Based on the growth of cumulative cases since the 100th case, New Jersey has had 2 changes in their cumulative growth since their 100th case (I round up due to reporting error). On 20th March 2020 and 26th March 2020 something happened. Given that SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period of up to 2 weeks, what events could have caused these surges?
20th March 2020 was when New Jersey ordered limitations on business operations. And look at how that curve flattened. It’s almost as if there was a huge testing backlog. If we look 2 weeks prior to that, New Jersey only had 4 reported cases of coronavirus on 6 March 2020. More likely social distancing behaviors began when the first cases were being diagnosed on 6 March and it requires a full two weeks to see the impact of this change in behavior. On 26th March 2020 NJ.com reported that as of that day the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases of unknown origin outnumbered those of known origin in every county of New Jersey. It is more likely that the change in the graph is associated with the state ordered limitations.
Based on the model above, New Jersey is predicted to reach 100,000 cases as of the 12th of April, 2020. This does not take into account the backlog of tests nor daily processing capabilities of labs for these tests.
If we look at just the cumulative cases since the 1000th case, the 100,000th case is predicted closer to 15th of April, 2020. This does indicate curve flattening because this milestone is being pushed out.
Healthcare Systems Overwhelmed
Patients from New Jersey are heading to Philadelphia and New York hospitals for treatment in addition to those in New Jersey. New Jersey’s healthcare resources:
This means that the citizens of New Jersey are acting as vectors of disease to the Philadelphia and New York City areas (or anywhere else they are traveling). But there’s a reason patients are seeking help elsewhere.
According to NJ.com, “State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said 12% of all hospitalizations in the state are now due to COVID-19. Of those, 41% require ventilators to stay alive.”
That said, centers specializing in pediatric covid-19 patients are becoming available. There are at least 144 pediatric patients in the state at this time.
To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, rules are being implemented in maternity wards that ban expectant partners from being present during the birth. This is in line with the rules adopted across the country banning visitors.
In 100 years we gained the ability to monitor the disease, albeit imperfectly, and make predictions. Disease forecasting based on mathematical predictions was used primarily in agriculture when I was in school. With agriculture, we use satellite imagery to look for indications of disease by looking at light reflection/absorption patterns. Crazy right?
I discussed forecasting in the post about New York. Ask questions and I can go into the mathematics of these models more.
Are we at the peak yet?
No. New Jersey will likely have 1 – 2 peaks – one shared across New York City and Philadelphia. The separation between these two peaks will depend on social distancing, hygiene practices, and the adoption of publicly wearing masks. We can examine milestones and projections for changes overtime to try and guess when these will be – if we reach a peak before Philadelphia has reached its peak, then yes, there will be a second peak for New Jersey. Milestones can be used in the process of forecasting for making quick decisions.
The slope is changing. If we look at only the last few days, we have moved farther out how long it takes to reach that 100,000th cumulative case milestone to the 14-15th of April 2020. The acts of individuals allows us to flatten this curve more.
With the actions of every day people, such as social distancing, staying at home, adopting public mask wearing, and hygiene awareness, we can flatten the curve.
If you currently live in New Jersey, I love you, please stay safe, and isolate if you can.
- New Jersey’s Peak is Following New York. If the curve does not flatten more, we could hit 100,000 cases by around 14-15th of April 2020 unless things improve.
- At this time it does not look like New Jersey is hitting a peak. New Jersey is kind of flattening the curve. There will be 1-2 peaks dependent on New Jersey’s ability to flatten the curve in between New York and Philadelphia’s peaks.
- To help flatten the curve: practice social distancing, stay at home, adopt public mask wearing, and remember hygiene awareness. We can flatten the curve. Flattening the curve now will hopefully protect New Jersey when Philadelphia peaks later.
- People are still sick with heart disease, cancer, bacterial infections, influenza, autoimmune disorders, tumors, and everything else under the sun and because the medical system is overwhelmed, those people aren’t getting sufficient care.
Thank you to anyone that reads this. Without you I’m just shouting into a void.
2 thoughts on “New Jersey: Are We Flattening The Curve?”
Wow, that social distancing scorecard site if fascinating. I know this post is very serious, but as a New Jersian, I couldn’t help but chuckle when you made reference to NJ being a special and unique state. It’s fascinating (and sometimes scary) observing the behavior and attitudes of people around here…from a safe distance and mostly through very active/gossipy social media community pages. I would say MOST are doing their part, but the ones who are defiant are proud and loud about it. We’re right outside of Philadelphia (and we have relatives in PA on the other side of the city). Overall the numbers in our densely populated area don’t seem too bad (and in some ways, under control) especially when you look at what’s happening in the part of the state closer to NYC, but we’re worried about those 2 (maybe even 3) unique peaks our area might see. In the meantime, we’re hunkered down (going on week 4 now)…and waiting…