Even with 76 percent of residents vaccinated and 50 percent boosted, school-aged kids continue to face risks amid newly reported instances of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC).
By Matt Skoufalos | February 2, 2022
Another 3,582 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 1.832 million cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.
New Jersey is also reporting 772 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 287,100 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.
High as those numbers may be, they represent a significant decline from the surge in new infections spurred on by the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 “Omicron” that ripped through the state during the end of 2021 and into 2022.
“The general consensus is we’re on the road from a pandemic to an endemic,” Murphy said. “No one knows how straight the road is, or how long it will take us. We want to get to the place where we can live with this thing in as normal a fashion as possible.”
Sadly, 107 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 28,744 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,919 probable COVID-19-related deaths—12 more than previously reported.
Since March 2020, 1,241 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents (more than one out of every 100) have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 326 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 17.121 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 20.80-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.55, spot positivity highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 12.07 percent February 2; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 17.47 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, fell to 0.55 on February 2.
An Rt figure of less than 1.0 means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting less than one other person, on average, and the spread of the virus is decreasing.
Since its mid-April-2020 pandemic-high spike, the highest reported RT in New Jersey was 1.77, recorded January 3, 2022. Prior to artificially low, adjusted reports of 0.34 in the first week of May 2021, the lowest in the past two years was 0.62, recorded June 9, 2020. On May 21, 2021, it reached a new low, of 0.59.
COVID hospitalizations down 30 percent in two weeks
Throughout New Jersey, 2,774 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (52) or confirmed (2,711) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 462 are in intensive or critical care, and 244 of the ICU and critical-care patients (53 percent) are on ventilators.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 289 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 409 others were discharged.
In total, hospitalizations have fallen by 30 percent over levels reported two weeks earlier, and track more closely with year-ago figures, Murphy said.
“We are only now back to where these numbers were at Christmastime,” the governor said. “While we’re pleased to see these trendlines, we know that the staffs in our hospitals are still overwhelmed, and we can’t let up in any measure.”
LTC update: outbreaks slowing
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 2,355 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 563 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 83,058 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 4.5 percent of total cases.
That includes 45,822 residents and 37,236 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 9,046 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (32 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 148 staff deaths.
Of 614 veterans residing in three state-run homes, nine residents currently are positive for COVID-19, and 167 have died from complications related to the virus.
The facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland are staffed by 1,368 workers, eight of whom are presently COVID-19-positive. The facilities have sustained two staff deaths related to the virus.
At state-run psychiatric hospitals, 30 of 1,128 patients and 60 of 1,136 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. At least 14 patients and eight staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
MISC, school cases continue to increase
To date, 175 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC)—nine more than previously reported. Four are presently hospitalized.
One child has died from complications related to the syndrome in New Jersey. Five MISC cases have been reported in Camden County, which is tied with Cumberland and Monmouth Counties for fourth-fewest 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.
New Jersey has sustained four COVID-associated child deaths, including those of three infants, since Christmas, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said last week, adding that none of those children had significant underlying conditions that could have compromised their immune response to the virus.
Overall, the state has lost 12 children from COVID-related causes throughout the pandemic; eight of them have been younger than four, and four others were aged five to 17.
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, 465 reported outbreaks—three or more students or staff who contracted the virus within the school—have been logged, affecting 3,138 people, a mix of students and staff.
In Camden County, 50 COVID-19 outbreaks have accounted for the in-school infections of 393 people, which is the largest case count and second-largest outbreak count of any county in the state, and more than the county had sustained in the entire prior school year.
Vaccination update: NJ clears 6.4M fully vaccinated in-state
More than 13.474 million primary-series COVID-19 doses have been administered in New Jersey, with 6.402 million people having 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.
More than 76 percent of the state population that is eligible for vaccination has completed its full vaccination series, and 50 percent of those eligible for boosters have gotten them. Ninety percent of the vaccine-eligible population of the state has received at least one dose.
In Camden County, 714,354 doses have been administered, seventh-most in the state; 344,180 people have been fully vaccinated.
An estimated 549,385 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 220,178 residents are estimated to have been fully vaccinated.
Vaccination sites in New Jersey have also administered 1.499 million Pfizer third/booster doses, 1.241 million additional Moderna doses, and 59,420 additional Johnson and Johnson doses.
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 million 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 began 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.
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