N.J.’s COVID numbers likely to rise again, but restrictions unlikely to return, Murphy says

Published: Mar. 17, 2022

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again across the world, New Jersey is likely to see another increase of its own, but officials don’t expect to reinstate widespread restrictions, Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s top health official said Thursday.

“We are closely watching the recent rise in global COVID numbers and, given both previous trends with regard to spread and our location as an international nexus for travel and trade, we do anticipate that we will eventually see an increase in the number of cases in New Jersey,” Murphy and state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor virus activity in the state, in particular for impacts to our health care system.”

“However, at this time, we do not anticipate any need to reinstate universal statewide mandated protective measures,” they added.

The global jump in numbers comes just weeks after governments all over the world further eased COVID-19 measures, with officials — including Murphy — saying the pandemic is moving into an endemic phase.

It was only 10 days ago that Murphy ended New Jersey’s public-health emergency over the pandemic, which has killed more than 33,000 residents in the two years since the state reported its first known case. The governor also dropped the statewide school mask mandate the same day.

The majority of New Jersey’s other mask mandates and business restrictions have gradually been lifted over the last two years.

Murphy has said the Garden State — an early coronavirus epicenter — now has a better grasp on the illness because of vaccinations, natural immunity, better treatment, and more knowledge of mitigation. He stressed earlier this month that while officials expect to see future surges in coronavirus numbers, “we think we can live responsibly live a normal life with COVID.”

On Thursday, Murphy and Persichilli encouraged residents to stay “up to date” with vaccinations and boosters, get tested when exposed or sick, and monitor the state’s numbers and federal mask recommendations.

“We continue to be among the nation’s most-vaccinated states,” the officials said. “Our health care infrastructure remains strong.”

“We are not going to manage COVID to zero nor are we impervious to the virus,” they added. “We expect COVID to continue to mutate and cases to continue to ebb and flow. Moving to an endemic status still means we must all take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

Coronavirus cases began to increase last week across the globe after a month of declines. The World Health Organization warned this is “the tip of the iceberg” because of a decrease in testing.

A surge in Europe — especially the United Kingdom — has prompted senior health aides in President Joe Biden’s administration to discuss the possibility of another wave this spring in the U.S., according to a report by Politico.

The rising numbers come as stealth omicron, a subvariant of COVID-19, is spreading. Officials say the variant could become the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S.. It now accounts for 39% of all cases in New Jersey and New York, according to federal figures.

Experts told NJ Advance Media they aren’t overly worried, though they are monitoring the strain.

New Jersey on Thursday reported another 14 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 996 positive tests. The state’s seven-day average for confirmed cases has hovered near 7-month lows in recent days.

There were 481 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across the state’s 71 hospitals as of Wednesday night — an increase of 29 patients after a steady downward trend for weeks.

New Jersey has one of the nation’s highest vaccination rates. More than 6.79 million of the 8.46 million eligible people who live, work, or study here have received the initial course of vaccinations and more than 7.73 million have received a first dose. More than 3.18 million people in the state eligible for boosters have received one.

Health officials and experts stress boosters are needed because immunity from the vaccine wanes over time.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-03-18 03:33:39 -0700