Coronavirus News: New Jersey adds nearly 1,900 suspected COVID-19 deaths

TRENTON, New Jersey -- Nearly 1,900 people likely died of COVID-19 in New Jersey but were not initially counted in the state's death toll, though they now will be, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday.

Murphy said state health officials recently completed a review of thousands of death certificates of people who died with coronavirus symptoms despite not having been tested. Those people likely died from COVID-19, Murphy said.

The total amounted to 1,854 people, or about 14% of the overall death toll. That means the combined death toll of those confirmed with the virus and suspected cases stands at 14,872, the governor said.

"We report this out of nothing less than a solemn sense of duty," Murphy said.

The newly reported deaths fall in three categories, according to Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of the Health Department's communicable disease service. They include a large group of people who were part of a known outbreak, primarily at nursing homes and other similar facilities. Another smaller group was people who had what Lifshitz called a "less specific" COVID-19 test administered. The third group was located by combing through death certificates and searching for coronavirus cases that might have been missed.

Murphy reported the overnight increase in positive cases grew by 406 to about 170,000 overall. There were 26 new deaths reported overnight, Murphy said.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

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