Even though most children may only suffer mild illness if they contract the virus, they can transmit COVID-19 to other, more vulnerable people, officials say.
By Matt Skoufalos | November 8, 2021
Another 774 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 1.050 million cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
New Jersey is also reporting 138 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 158,102 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, seven more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 25,274 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,818 probable COVID-19-related deaths—two more than previously reported.
Since March 2020, 1,074 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 287 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 15.935 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 11.945-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.0, spot positivity higher in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 3.78 percent November 4; in South Jersey, it was slightly higher, at 3.89 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, rose to 1.0 on November 8.
An Rt figure of 1.0 means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting than one other person, on average, and the spread of the virus is increasing.
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, ICU/ventilator usage holding steady
Throughout New Jersey, 627 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (44) or confirmed (583) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 144 are in intensive or critical care, and 70 of the ICU and critical-care patients (49 percent) are on ventilators.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 70 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 67 others were discharged.
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,805 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 129 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 57,167 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 5.7 percent of total cases.
That includes 33,967 residents and 23,200 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,657 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (35 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 145 staff deaths.
Of 636 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 1,366 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, 136 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC)—one more than previously reported. 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, 148 reported outbreaks—three or more students or staff who contracted the virus within the school—have been logged, affecting 794 people, a mix of students (681) and staff (113).
Vaccination update: NJ approaches 6M fully vaccinated people, exceeds 12M doses administered
Across New Jersey, 12.76 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered.
Throughout New Jersey, 5.879 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, 688,732 doses have been administered, seventh-most in the state; 399,548 people have been fully vaccinated.
An estimated 488,888 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 210,161 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.
Pandemic trajectory relies upon child immunizations
During Monday’s briefing, officials spoke about the importance of pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations to overcoming the pandemic.
Although most children may only suffer a mild illness if they contract the virus, some can develop severe illnesses, including long-haul COVID, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
Moreover, they can transmit the infection “to other children, and to adults who may be more vulnerable,” she said.
Vaccination coverage is “our best tool” to ending the pandemic, including the emergence of any future variants of the virus, said state epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan.
In New Jersey, 650,000 12-17-year-olds have been vaccinated, with another 260,000 remaining, Persichilli said. Since vaccine doses were authorized for children aged 5 to 11, some 9,000 doses already had been administered since Sunday. That accounts for about 1.2 percent of the statewide population (760,000 people) of that age group, Persichilli said.
For parents who want to know when their children could attend school unmasked, Murphy didn’t have a clear answer. However, the governor did point out that the mandatory masking mandate in schools will expire January 11 and that officials “would have to volitionally re-up that.”
In bracing for the impact of seasonal trends complicating the fight against COVID-19—colder weather forcing people indoors, holiday gatherings, and the emergence of variant AY.4.2, which health officials are calling “Delta Plus”—Murphy said he isn’t sure “exactly when we would be able to get to that place” where masks wouldn’t be required in schools, but affirmed Tan’s and Persichilli’s position that immunizations are the way out of the pandemic.
“Our general vaccination rates continue to go up,” Murphy said, adding, “I think the booster uptake is lower than we would like.”
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