N.J. reports 1,145 COVID cases, 4 confirmed deaths as hospitalizations increase again, to more than 850 patients

Posted Aug 16, 2021

New Jersey on Monday reported another 1,145 confirmed COVID-19 cases and four more confirmed deaths on Sunday, while statewide coronavirus hospitalizations topped 800 for the first time in more than three months.

The state’s seven-day average for newly confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,499. That’s up 23% from a week ago and 324% from a month ago as officials say the highly transmissible delta variant continues to drive increases.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is serving as acting governor while Gov. Phil Murphy is on vacation in Italy, delivered the updated numbers during an appearance alongside U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in New Brunswick.

“As we engage in debates about schools opening back up and children getting back into the educational program, we know that it’s more important than ever to encourage people to go get their vaccinations,” Oliver said.

There were 853 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 (782) or suspected (71) cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals on Sunday night — 68 more than the previous night and the most since May 15. The state had not had more than 800 coronavirus patients hospitalized since May 17.

Hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last month. At the same time last summer, New Jersey had 470 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

Of those hospitalized Sunday, 157 were in intensive care (five more than the night before), with 63 on ventilators (six more). There were 88 patients discharged while 125 were admitted on Sunday.

Hospitalizations and deaths in New Jersey have not risen anywhere near the pandemic’s peaks. More than 3,800 patients were hospitalized during the second peak in November. And numbers overall are not as bad as other states. That, officials say, is due at least in part to the state’s relatively high vaccination rate.

More than 5.4 million people who live, work or study in New Jersey have now been fully vaccinated in more than seven months since inoculations began, according to state data. About 4 million residents remain unvaccinated.

Still, all but four of New Jersey’s 21 counties are now listed has having “high” rates of coronavirus transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The other four have “substantial” transmission. The CDC is recommending people in all of the state’s counties wear masks for indoor public settings regarding of vaccination rates

New Jersey’s statewide transmission rate remained 1.26, the same as the day before. Any number over 1 indicates that each new case is leading to more than one additional case and shows the state’s outbreak is expanding.

The statewide positivity rate for tests conducted Wednesday, the most recent day available, was 5.08%.

“With each passing day, we’re climbing a little more,” Oliver said.

An early coronavirus hotspot, New Jersey has now reported 26,696 total COVID-19 deaths in more than 17 months — 23,975 confirmed and 2,271 considered probable, according to the state dashboard. That’s the most coronavirus deaths per capita in the U.S. The probable deaths, which are revised weekly, increased by one fatality on Monday.

In all, the state of 9.2 million residents has reported 927,536 total confirmed cases out of more than 14.8 million PCR tests since it announced its first case March 4, 2020. The state has also reported 134,702 positive antigen tests, which are considered probable cases.

Murphy has said “all options are on the table” to fight the upticks in New Jersey, though the governor has stopped short of instituting vaccine mandates for all government workers, as the federal government has done, or requiring people to show proof of vaccination to participate in indoor public activities, as New York City has done.

Asked if she supports either of those steps in New Jersey, Oliver said Monday: “I’m not certain.”

“Let’s think about the business community and what they have suffered,” the lieutenant governor added. “I know you’ve got to keep people healthy. You see our COVID numbers climbing up on a daily basis. ... But as is stands now, we have not incorporated any policies like that.”

Asked if it was time for all states to mandate government workers get vaccinated, Becerra did not directly answer but said: “It is certainly time for all of us to act responsibly.”

“We all have a responsibility,” the U.S. health secretary said. “If we are in public service, we have a personal responsibility to the people we represent to do what’s right. ... We hope that our governors and our local leaders will take on their personal responsibility to make sure we’re all safe.”

Murphy said last week that of New Jersey’s 4,332 positive tests between July 20-26, nearly 18% were so-called breakthrough cases of those who had been fully vaccinated, which is up from previous weeks.

But he said of the 378 coronavirus patients admitted to the state’s hospitals in that time, 97% were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. And of the state’s 21 coronavirus deaths in that time, all were either of unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people — the second consecutive week of no deaths among vaccinated people.

At least 8,071 of New Jersey’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data.

As of Monday, there have been more than 207 million positive COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 4.36 million people having died due to the virus. The U.S. has reported the more cases (more than 36.6 million) and deaths (more than 621,600) than any other nation.

Nearly 4.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-08-17 03:16:00 -0700