N.J reports 3 COVID deaths, 24,710 cases. Hospitalizations quadruple from last month.

Published: Jan. 02, 2022

New Jersey on Sunday reported another three COVID-19 deaths and 24,710 confirmed positive cases, which despite breaking a streak of record-high days, coincided with the highest seven-day case average ever recorded and another increase in hospitalizations.

The number of cases reported Sunday represents a decrease of approximately 17% from the high reported Saturday, but the state’s seven-day case average still increased to 21,734, the highest ever recorded. That’s almost double (83%) the average a week ago and is more than 885% percent higher than this time last month.

The new number also marks five consecutive days the Garden State has reported more than 20,000 cases. On Friday, New Jersey reported 28,512 confirmed positive tests. Until last week, the state’s single-day record was 6,922, set Jan. 13, 2021.

The dramatic spike in cases comes as the state, region and country face a new winter surge, the rise of the omicron variant, and a massive increase in the demand for testing with many people gathering for the holidays.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to increase as well, to 4,280, the highest level since May 8, 2020, when the initial wave in cases was starting to ease. Still, hospitalizations have not grown at the level they did at the beginning of the pandemic, when the number of patients in hospital beds exceeded 8,000.

But increases in patients typically follow a week to 10 days after surges in case numbers and hospitalizations will be watched closely in the coming weeks.

The positivity rate for tests conducted on Wednesday, the most recent day available, was 32.77% — meaning roughly 1 in 3 people who sought a test that day got a positive result. New Jersey has not had a positivity rate that high since April 2020.

There are caveats to the daily case surge. The spike comes as significantly more people are being tested in an attempt to safeguard planned holiday gatherings amid fears over omicron.

It’s also not known if all the cases announced Sunday were over a 24-hour period. Some may have been from prior tests just now reported by the state, possibly delayed from the holidays and surge in testing demand.

And officials note that testing was less widely available in the first months of the pandemic, making it difficult to compare periods. The highest day in the first wave for confirmed positive tests was 4,427 on April 23, 2020.

Testing is now far more available, though long lines have been seen throughout the state. In addition, many people have sought at-home rapid tests and those results are not reported to the state, meaning the current test numbers could be undercounting the extent of the spread.

The state reported 110,549 PCR tests conducted on Dec. 22, a few days before families gathered for the Christmas holiday and the most tests recorded in a single day during the pandemic for New Jersey. Another 110,125 tests were administered on Monday, after the Christmas holiday weekend.

During the surge in cases last winter, there were just two days — Dec. 20, 2020 and Jan. 11, 2021 — with more than 90,000 tests administered.


Despite the caveats in comparing waves, there is no doubt numbers are trending in the wrong direction. The 110,937 confirmed positive tests reported the last four days are higher than the total cases reported in October (40,050) and November (42,971) combined.

Sunday also marked the 18th consecutive day in which the state has reported more than 6,000 new positive tests a day. By comparison, New Jersey had only six days total of more than 6,000 cases last winter.

The state did not break down how many of the new cases are from the delta or omicron variants. New Jersey has reported only a handful of omicron cases so far, though state officials said there are likely much more in the state because data is lagging.

For a seven-day period ending Dec. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated about 58.6% of all new coronavirus cases nationwide were from the omicron variant. In New Jersey, omicron accounted for 8% of cases sampled Dec. 5 to Dec. 11, according to state data.

There are early signs that while the omicron variant is more transmissible, it may cause less severe symptoms and require fewer hospitalizations than previous strains. Officials and experts also say South Africa, once the center of the omicron surge, is now seeing its cases of the variant plunging.

Gov. Phil Murphy — whose wife Tammy tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday — has suggested in recent weeks that all options are “on the table” when it comes to reimposing restrictions to combat the new surge.

But he has said a statewide lockdown is unlikely. The governor has said the biggest focus is on preventing hospital capacity from being overwhelmed.


New Jersey’s hospital COVID-19 count has been on the rise since early to mid-November, when the total number of virus patients statewide was between 600 and 700. Hospitalizations and severe illness are critical metrics to watch, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a meeting Monday with the nation’s governors.

There were 4,280 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Saturday night. That’s 238 more than the day before, despite at least 588 discharges during the 24-hour period that ended 10 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

Of the 4,280 hospitalized Saturday night, 595 were in intensive care (eight more than the previous night) and 298 were on ventilators (one less than the previous night).

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 1,817 from a week ago, or 74%, and more than quadruple from a month ago. The number of patients peaked last winter at 3,873 on Dec. 22, 2020, before vaccines were widely available. By comparison, during last winter’s peak, 766 patients were in intensive care and 524 were on ventilators.

New Jersey’s statewide transmission rate, which indicates whether the pandemic is growing or shrinking, decreased to 1.77 on Sunday. It was 1.92 on Saturday and 1.78 on Friday. If it reaches 2.0, it will indicate every infected person is passing the virus along to two people.

Officials and health experts have cited a number of reasons for why cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again. Among them is the weather and the time of year.

Officials said last week while the majority of new cases in New Jersey are among unvaccinated residents, cases among fully vaccinated people are increasing, which shows protection from the first round of shots may be waning. They say booster shots help.

New Jersey also does not issue daily breakdowns of the vaccine status of those who test positive, are hospitalized, or died because of the virus. Instead, the state provides monthly and weekly overviews.

As of the first week of December, New Jersey has reported a total of 68,913 breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated people this year, leading to 1,513 hospitalizations and 350 deaths, though those represent a small percentage of total cases. Officials say vaccinated people are less likely to contract the virus and much less likely to develop life-threatening cases of COVID-19.

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, the state reported 27,036 positive tests. Of those, 6,082 were from fully vaccinated people and those cases led to 24 hospitalizations (out of 1,198 total) and no deaths (out of 116 total).

More than 6.43 million (about 75%) of the 8.6 million eligible people who live, work or study in New Jersey have been fully vaccinated and more than 7.29 million (or about 85%) have received a first dose since vaccines began here on Dec. 15, 2020.

More than 2.26 million, or 49% of the 4.6 million people in New Jersey eligible for third doses or boosters, have received one.

Anyone 16 and older in the U.S. who has received their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at least six months ago is eligible to get a booster shot. Anyone 16 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also eligible for a booster two months after their single shot. In most situations, the CDC said, it recommends the Pfizer and Moderna boosters.

All of New Jersey’s 21 counties are listed as having “high” rates of coronavirus transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency is recommending that all people in high transmission counties wear masks for indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.

New Jersey, an early coronavirus hotspot, has now reported 29,056 deaths — 26,207 confirmed deaths and 2,849 probable deaths — in the nearly 22 months since the pandemic began here.

As of Dec. 16, the state had the third-most coronavirus deaths per capita in the U.S., behind Mississippi and Alabama.

New Jersey has reported 1,398,054 total confirmed cases out of more than 16.5 million PCR tests conducted since the state’s first case was announced on March 4, 2020. The state has also reported 225,042 positive antigen or rapid tests, which are considered probable cases.

Cases continue to rise among school staff and students in New Jersey, according to numbers released before schools went on winter break that track infections regardless of where the transmission occurred.

For the week ending Dec. 19, with 61% of the state’s school providing data, another 9,808 confirmed cases were reported among staff (2,029) and students (7,716). That’s an increase of 6,947 cases, or 41%, from the previous week.

About 1 in 4 cases statewide for that week were among school students or staff.

Since the start of the academic year, there have been 44,532 students and 10,274 school staff members who have contracted COVID-19.

The state provides total student and staff cases separately from those deemed to be in-school transmission, which is narrowly defined as three or more cases linked through contact tracing.

Murphy said last month state officials will do “everything we can” to keep having in-person classes in schools across New Jersey after the upcoming winter break, “obviously safely and responsibly.”

At least 8,772 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data. There were active outbreaks at 393 facilities, resulting in 2,006 current cases among residents and 3,604 cases among staffers as of the latest data.

As of Sunday, there have been more than 289.6 million COVID-19 cases reported across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 5.44 million people having died due to the virus. The U.S. has reported the most cases (more than 54.9 million) and deaths (more than 825,800) of any nation.

There have been more than 9.17 billion vaccine doses administered globally.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-01-03 03:23:58 -0800