While sending a package today, I was told today that not a single employee of the busy Somers Point Post Office tested positive for #coronavirus during the past 11 weeks.
During those same 11 weeks of lockdown in New Jersey, 119 residents and one employee died of COVID-19 in sixteen Atlantic County nursing homes. They were 81% of Atlantic County’s 149 coronavirus deaths.
Today, there were 37 new cases in Atlantic County out of a population of 252,000. The curve has been flat since April. There were 38 new cases a month ago on April 24 when there was much less testing. Most of the new cases seemed to be clustered in towns were nursing homes are located. However, neither government officials nor our local newspaper reports whether or not new cases are in nursing homes. Why?
There were two coronavirus deaths in Atlantic County yesterday. They were an 81 year old man and a 90 year old woman. The Press reported that both had “pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk for complications”. Were they in nursing homes? Neither government officials or our local newspaper said.
During the past 10 weeks of lockdown, 2,049 people in Atlantic County tested positive for coronavirus. Of those, 795 or 39% were patients or employees of nursing homes.
95 employees of Ancora State Psychiatric Hospital tested positive for coronavirus. Many of them live in Atlantic County. Neither the state nor the media would report how many family members of nursing home employees tested positive. It seem likely that many did. If so, licensed New Jersey nursing homes, the state psychiatric hospital, and the families of employees of those facilities make up most of Atlantic County residents infected with coronavirus.
What is the risk of getting infected in Atlantic County if you do not have contact with a nursing home or mental institution, or someone who works there? We don’t know. Neither government officials nor the media will tell us.
We do know that Governor Murphy announced that he will not let businesses open until we “contain” the disease. But how can we contain the disease, or even know how to contain the disease if neither the government nor media tell us how much of the disease is already contained in nursing homes, and where and how others outside of them are getting infected.
If you are under age 50, there is very little chance you will die or need hospital treatment. Our hospitals and intensive care units have plenty of empty beds, and plenty of empty rooms.
So why does Governor Murphy continue the lockdowns and shutdowns? We are now going into the 11th week of his “emergency” executive orders.
A “77 day emergency” is an oxymoron. In a democratic republic, if anyone has the right to deny healthy citizens their freedom to work and support themselves, it must be legislators elected from each local district. And it should only be done only after open and public discussion and debate with citizens having the opportunity to be heard. Couldn’t this have been done months ago? Even with social distance issues?
Benjamin Franklin often observed that when people make decisions without open discussion or debate, those decisions are more likely to be bad, and based on incorrect or incomplete information.
That may explain why New Jersey’s lockdown is so upside down. Governor Murphy refused to let young, strong, healthy people go to work or school, even though they have little risk of catching, spreading, or getting seriously ill from coronavirus. Meanwhile Governor Murphy ordered nursing homes containing our weakest and most vulnerable citizens to admit highly contagious coronavirus patients. This was in spite of the national Center for Disease Control (CDC) reporting last January that coronavirus could not be contained or controlled even in a very well-run nursing homes in Washington State!
It is “settled science” that serious or life-threatening coronavirus cases are very rare for healthy people 50 years old or less.
For weeks, we suggested that Governor Murphy invest all state resources into protecting our elderly and those with serious medical issues, while letting the rest of the population become infected and immune. The most recent statistics show that roughly 45% of those infected have no symptoms, and do not spread disease. Sweden has used that strategy, and it never shut down its schools, factories, and businesses.
New Jersey with a population of 8 million people has been in a complete lockdown since last March 16. We have 156,000 coronavirus cases and 11,200 deaths. Sweden with 10 million people and no lockdown has 34,440 cases, and 4,128 deaths.
Traditional research suggests that infectious viruses stop spreading when 40% of the population has been infected and immune. That is called “herd immunity”.
However, data from the Diamond Princess and Ruby Princess cruise ships suggest that “herd immunity” may be reached when only 20% are infected and immune. Both ships were infected and quarantined until the virus had run its course. The Diamond Princess with 3,711 people on board, including many elderly passengers, had 712 infections (20%) and 14 deaths. (2% of those infected).
The Ruby Princess had 3800 people on board including many who were also elderly. That ship had 852 infections (23%) and 22 deaths (3% of those infected).
Public Health officials in England and Scotland are now doing what we suggested weeks ago and are following the Swedish model. They now have a new name for it. They call it “segment and shield”. That means isolate, protect, and lockdown only those who are over age 50 or who have medical conditions that put them at risk. However, everyone else is encouraged to do their normal activities.
Seth Grossman, Executive Director