It's now been more than 100 days since the first recorded case of the novel coronavirus in New Jersey, on March 3 in Bergen County.

The virus was almost certainly in the state before then, but that's when the first positive test result was received by the state Department of Health. Over the next week it was detected in six other counties.

It grew exponentially from there though but unevenly across the state. Bergen County had recorded 363 cases, including 113 new ones on March 20 alone, before COVID-19 finally reached Salem County on March 21.

In the "bar chart race" below, you can trace the spread of the outbreak over its first three-plus months.

Rather than show results by total number of cases, which of course would tilt toward the most populous counties, the results are shown as a rate: the total number of confirmed cases per 10,000 residents. The regions of the state — North, Central and South — are color-coded, following the same groupings the state Health Department uses for reporting hospitalizations.

Let the animation run a few times and pick something different to focus on. Bergen County, despite having the highest count for almost the entire outbreak, hasn't had the worst of the outbreak since early April. The chart's layout is fixed, rather than static, to get an idea of just how quickly it was growing in late April, especially in North Jersey, and how it has slowed recently.

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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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