Coronavirus Update: 1.042M Infections, 25,164 Related Deaths; NJ Awaits Pediatric Vaccines as Kids Account for Majority of New Cases


‘While case rates are declining across the state and the nation, younger children are now the predominant positive cases,’ Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

By Matt Skoufalos | November 2, 2021

COVID-19 Dashboard – 11-02-21. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 686 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 1.042 million cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.

New Jersey is also reporting 203 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 156,769 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, six more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 25,164 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,816 probable COVID-19-related deaths—two more than previously reported.

Since March 2020, 1,070 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 286 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

More than 15.892 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 11.863-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.96, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 3.61 percent October 28; in South Jersey, it was higher, at 4.53 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, rose to 0.96 on November 1.

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.

Simulated COVID-19 patient in a hospital bed. Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

COVID hospitalizations continue to decline

Throughout New Jersey, 712 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (60) or confirmed (652) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

Among those hospitalized patients, 168 are in intensive or critical care, and 92 of the ICU and critical-care patients (55 percent) are on ventilators.

In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 76 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 73 others were discharged.

LTC update

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,795 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 142 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 57,292 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 5.7 percent of total cases.

That includes 34,018 residents and 23,274 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,639 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, 135 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).

COVID-19 vaccine bottle mock-up. Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Vaccination update: NJ approaches 6M fully vaccinated people, exceeds 12M doses administered

Across New Jersey, 12.5 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, 673,088 doses have been administered, seventh-most in the state; 384,724 people have been fully vaccinated.

An estimated 479,067 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 205,644 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.

Judy Persichilli – NJ COVID-19 Briefing – 11-2-21. Credit: NJ Pen.

NJ anticipates federal vaccine rollout for kids

In anticipation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorizing the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, New Jersey is preparing the infrastructure that will support their immunizations.

Last week, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced that the state had ordered tens of thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine in dosages appropriate for children.

On Monday, she confirmed that New Jersey will have an initial wave of 203,800 juvenile doses spread across 230 sites in all 21 counties.

That’s important, Persichilli said, as children are now the top transmitters of the virus. Officials hope that their vaccination will help mitigate its spread.

“While case rates are declining across the state and the nation, younger children are now the predominant positive cases, not only in our nation, but in New Jersey as well,” the commissioner said.

“If I wanted to protect my entire extended family [in advance of holiday gatherings], I would start by getting the kids vaccinated,” added Dr. Ed Lifshitz, who heads up the New Jersey communicable disease service.

Lifshitz also said that vaccinating children will help protect their school communities.

“We know that schools are somewhat of a mess, as hard as people are trying,” he said. Getting vaccinated is “one of the best things to protect against [your children having to] quarantine.”

“Opening up eligibility for our younger kids can be an absolute game-changer in our fight against COVID, especially in making our schools safer places, and beyond that, enhancing protection for our families and communities,” Murphy said.

“We have the distribution network in place, and we will be ready to hit start the moment we are given the green light.”

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