The number of ventilated patients in New Jersey falls.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey cited progress in the fight against the virus on Thursday even as he reported that another 198 people in the state had died.

The number of virus patients on ventilators dropped almost 2 percent, to 1,551 from 1,576, from Wednesday to Thursday, an indicator that the curve of infection was flattening.

The death toll was New Jersey’s smallest in three days, although it was still the fourth highest since the outbreak began. More people have died in New Jersey, 1,700, than in any other state besides New York.

Mr. Murphy also said the rate at which the number of confirmed virus cases was doubling in each of the state’s counties was beginning to slow.

“This is progress,” he said, showing a county-by-county map of new cases. “Our social distancing is in fact beginning to show effect here.

The governor announced 3,748 new cases, pushing the total number in the state to 51,027. He said that as the number of new cases continued to rise, people had to keep following the order to stay at home and to wear masks when going to the grocery store.

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“We have got to get to a plateau,” he said. “This is not a time for selfishness.”

Nearly 480 people were discharged from hospitals from Wednesday to Thursday, he said, including James Pruden, an emergency room doctor who contracted the virus in late March.

Mr. Murphy also announced new grace periods for people who had lost their jobs and could not pay their insurance premiums: 60 days for people unable to pay health and dental premiums and 90 days for those unable to pay home, auto, renter’s and life insurance premiums.

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