New Jersey reported 318 new presumptive positive cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 742.
"We have expected these numbers,'' Gov. Phil Murphy said at a noon news conference. "These numbers will go into the many thousands."
Murphy attributed the increase to more testing around the state as well as community spread of the deadly virus.
"There are sadly four additional casualties," Murphy said, bringing the total state fatalities to nine.
Eighty of the new positive cases came in Bergen County, bringing its COVID-19 total to 195. Middlesex County has 24 new cases, bringing its total to 64. Essex County has 17 new cases, bringing its total to 63. Hudson County has 21 new cases, bringing its total to 55. Passaic County has 20 new cases, bringing its total to 38. Monmouth County has 11 new cases, bringing its total to 32. And Ocean County has 25 new cases overnight, bringing its total to 33, the governor said.
"I urge residents not to hoard food,'' Murphy said, noting that state officials will continue to make sure grocery stores are well-stocked. "Frankly, we want everyone to stay home at this point."
Murphy issued a new warning for the state's families and youngest residents: "They're not immune. Young people are getting a little more sick from this than a week or two ago."
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the New Jersey's median age is 52 for those becoming infected with COVID-19.
Nearly half of the presumptive positive patients have been hospitalized, with the most severe cases affecting people 60 years and older, Persichilli said, including residents of six nursing homes in New Jersey. Three of the state's nine fatalities were at long-term care facilities, she said.
On Friday, the state's newest COVID-19 test center will open at Bergen County Community College, which can test 2,500 people weekly.
State officials urged only those residents with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested. The National Guard and state police will help control traffic at the Bergen site. Symptoms include high fever, coughing and breathing problems.
A New Jersey mother of 11 and grandmother of 27 children died on Wednesday night after contracting the coronavirus.
The latest COVID-19 victim, 73-year-old Grace Fusco of Freehold, did not know one of her sons died hours earlier, or that her daughter, Rita Fusco-Jackson, had died five days earlier.
Grace Fusco and other family members were being treated at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township, The New York Times said.
Mrs. Fusco’s eldest child, Rita Fusco-Jackson, 55, of Freehold, died Friday. Her eldest son, Carmine Fusco died earlier Wednesday at a hospital near his home in Bath, Pa., family members told The Times.
A video of Murphy's daily briefing can be watched live by clicking here.
CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES
Click here to follow Daily Voice Monmouth and receive free news updates.