New state dashboard tracks 11 COVID-19 outbreaks at NJ schools

By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey has launched an online dashboard that tracks cases where the coronavirus is spread within school buildings.

The new feature shows there are 11 schools statewide where COVID-19 cases have spread between students or school staff.

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said seven counties showed cases where teachers or students transmitted the virus since the beginning of August.

“Currently we are posting that there are 11 in-school outbreaks linked to in-school transmission that have been verified by the local health departments,” Persichilli said.

Two of the outbreaks listed are in Burlington County and two are in Gloucester County, representing 16 total cases.

The dashboard does not identify the schools, but cases have been reported at Lenape High School in Burlington County and Hurffville Elementary and Washington Township High School in Gloucester County.

The state has a matrix by which local officials can decide whether to isolate individuals, classrooms, or entire schools.

Gov. Phil Murphy at his coronavirus briefing said the state always expected to see COVID-19 cases in school buildings.

“We knew, as we’ve been saying going in, that there would be positive cases in our schools,” he said.

Kevin Dehmer, interim education commissioner, said the 11 outbreaks were among a total of 3,000 schools. Murphy said that was as good as he could have hoped.

“Relative to what I would have predicted a month ago, I don’t want to put words in Judy’s and Kevin’s mouth, this is a pretty darn good result,” Murphy said.

State health officials are also watching an outbreak in Lakewood, Ocean County, where 27% of people tested were positive.

The statewide positivity rate is 3%.

Extra contract tracers have been sent to Ocean County and Murphy plans to meet with community and religious leaders in Lakewood on Friday.