Plus: hospitalizations fall to a three-month low, rate of transmission continues to decline, and an update on booster immunization eligibility and timelines.
By Matt Skoufalos | October 27, 2021
Another 1,034 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 1.037 million cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.
New Jersey is also reporting 388 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 155,723 positive antigen tests.
Antigen tests have a faster turnaround time than PCR tests—sometime within 15 to 30 minutes—but are less reliable at detecting active infection of the virus, and more capable of reporting false positives.
Sadly, 33 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 25,115 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,814 probable COVID-19-related deaths—four more than previously reported.
Since March 2020, 1,067 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 285 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 15.850 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 11.789-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.83, spot positivity higher in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 5.20 percent October 23; in South Jersey, it was higher, at 6.31 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, fell to 0.83 on October 27.
Any Rt figure less than 1.0 means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting fewer than one other person, on average, and the spread of the virus is decreasing.
Since its mid-April-2020 COVID-19 spike, the highest reported RT in New Jersey was 1.48, recorded August 1, 2020. Prior to artificially low, adjusted reports of 0.34 in the first week of May, the lowest in the past year was 0.62, recorded June 9, 2020. On May 21, 2021, it reached a new low, of 0.59.
COVID hospitalizations continue to decline
Throughout New Jersey, 792 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (52) or confirmed (740) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
It’s the first time since August 14 that that number fell below 800 in the state.
Among those hospitalized patients, 196 are in intensive or critical care, and 96 of the ICU and critical-care patients (49 percent) are on ventilators.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 90 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 97 others were discharged.
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,777 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 157 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 57,240 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 5.7 percent of total cases.
That includes 33,984 residents and 23,256 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,622 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (35 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 145 staff deaths.
Of 651 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 456 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 158 have died from complications related to the virus. Three hundred veterans have recovered from the virus. No resident currently is COVID-19-positive.
The facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland are staffed by 1,369 workers, one of whom is presently COVID-19-positive. The facilities have sustained two staff deaths related to the virus.
At state-run psychiatric hospitals, 374 of 1,139 patients and 1,136 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and eight staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
MISC cases and schools
To date, 134 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC). Four of those cases were reported in Camden County, tied with Cumberland and Monmouth Counties for third-least in the state.
All those pediatric patients have tested positive for an active COVID-19 infection or the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, indicating exposure to the virus. No deaths have been associated with this syndrome in New Jersey, although several children have been hospitalized during their treatment for the illness.
From August 1, 2020 through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, 293 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,385 individual cases were traced to in-school activities in all 21 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 18 outbreaks were linked to 78 in-school cases, sixth-most in the state.
Since the start of the 2021-2022 school year, 137 reported outbreaks—three or more students or staff who contracted the virus within the school—have been logged, affecting 715 people, a mix of students (613) and staff (102).
Vaccination update: NJ approaches 6M fully vaccinated people, exceeds 12M doses administered
Across New Jersey, 12.326 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered.
Throughout New Jersey, 5.832 million people have been fully vaccinated in-state, having received either a one-shot formulation from Johnson and Johnson or both doses of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
In Camden County, 662,638 doses have been administered, seventh-most in the state; 375,711 people have been fully vaccinated.
An estimated 469,512 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 202,117 residents are estimated to have been fully vaccinated.
The first vaccines in the state were administered December 15, 2020; by February 8—55 days later—New Jersey had immunized its millionth resident. Twenty days thereafter, that count hit 2 million, and 3 million within two more weeks.
On March 29, New Jersey crossed the 4-million-dose threshold, and the state cleared 5 million doses over the weekend of April 10, 2021. Eight days after that, New Jersey hit the 6-million-dose mark. By May 3, 2021, the state had cleared 7 million doses administered, and two weeks later, it had surpassed 8 million doses.
As of June 2, 2021, the state had cleared 9 million administered doses and 4 million fully vaccinated New Jerseyans, and on June 18, hit 4.7 million vaccinated individuals, its target goal for 70 percent of the adult population of the state.
By mid-July, that number had increased to 5.019 people fully vaccinated at New Jersey vaccination sites. At the end of August 2021, the state had exceeded 11 million doses administered and had begun approaching 6 million fully vaccinated residents.
It took until mid-October 2021 to clear the 12-millionth vaccine dose administered, at a time when some residents have begun receiving booster doses or third doses. By late October, New Jersey finally reached an estimated 6 million fully immunized residents, nearly three months after having crossed the 5-million-resident threshold.
All New Jersey residents who’ve completed their full course of COVID-19 vaccines are eligible for booster immunizations.
Those who received either the Pfizer or Moderna formulations may seek theirs six months after having gotten their final dose. Anyone 65 and older, or who had an underlying medical condition, works in a high-risk setting, or lives in a long-term care facility is immediately eligible.
Those 18 and older who received the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccination are eligible two months later.
All those who’ve completed their initial immunization courses may receive a booster dose of any formulation of their choice.
Pediatric COVID-19 vaccines likely to be approved soon, NJ orders doses
At the October 26 meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), the panel voted to recommend that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorize emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children.
In New Jersey, some 760,000 kids aged 5 to 11 would become eligible for the vaccine if the FDA accepts this recommendation, which it is expected to in the coming days, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
In anticipation of that result, New Jersey has ordered 205,000 pediatric doses of the vaccine, a two-dose regimen that’s one-third of the dose administered to teens and adults.
“As soon as the approval is granted, all 21 counties will establish sites to vaccinate children with the lower-dose Pfizer vaccine,” Persichilli said.
New Jersey state epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan, advised that parents vaccinate their young children, who continue to account for 11 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States and 40 percent of the MISC cases. Of some 5,200 cases reported nationally, nearly 50 have resulted in the death of a child, Tan said.
“Even though these numbers may seem small, we have a vaccine that’s going to prevent these possible complications in the future, and why would you want to take that chance with your kids?” she said.
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