The U.S. Food and Drug Administration signaled that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be greenlit on an emergency basis before the weekend is over, leading to shipments of the drug to New Jersey by Monday or Tuesday.
By Matt Skoufalos | December 11, 2020
Another 3,821 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 390,256 cases, Governor Phil Murphy reported Friday.
Sadly, 55 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 15,794 lives lost during the pandemic.
Of those, 27 were reported in the past three days.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 1,868 probable COVID-19-related deaths, 675 of which are among residents and staff at long-term care (LTC) centers.
Since March, 487 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 177 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 6.58 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 4.29-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.14, spot positivity highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing stood at 9.95 percent December 7; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 11.31 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, rose to 1.14 from samples taken December 9.
An Rt figure greater than 1.0 means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting more than one other person, on average, and the spread of the virus is increasing.
Since its mid-April COVID-19 spike, the highest reported RT in New Jersey was 1.48, recorded August 1. The lowest was 0.62, recorded June 9.
Hospitalizations continue to increase
Throughout New Jersey, 3,571 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (239) or confirmed (3,332) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Yesterday 467 COVID-positive patients were admitted to New Jersey hospitals, while 425 were discharged.
Among those hospitalized patients, 687 were in intensive or critical care, and 421 of the ICU and critical-care patients (61 percent) are on ventilators.
“The one third rail that we cannot cross or touch is our healthcare system and its capacities,” Murphy said. “We are at 3,500 beds right now and our high in April was 8,200. That’s the number—the ICU, the vents—that’s the hard count in the hospital, making sure our health system is not overrun.”
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,090 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 391 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 44,972 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 12 percent of total cases.
That includes 27,904 residents and 17,068 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,373 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (47 percent of the statewide total), with facilities self-reporting 124 staff deaths.
Of 656 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 412 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 147 have died from complications related to the virus. Nine veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 250 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 267 of 1,172 patients and 684 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.
To date, 65 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome—one new case, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced Friday.
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.
Since August 1, 88 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 388 individual cases have been traced to schools in 19 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 12 outbreaks have been linked to 63 cases, second-most in the state.
Pfizer vaccine expected to receive emergency approval
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration signaled that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be authorized on an emergency basis before the weekend is over.
If so, that would lead to shipments of the drug to New Jersey by Monday or Tuesday, Persichilli said.
The state anticipates some 76,000 doses in the first wave early next week.
Healthcare workers and LTC residents and staff will comprise the first phase of vaccine distribution starting this month. Second will be those workers providing essential services during the pandemic, including those unable to work from home.
In New Jersey, 650,000 workers who have direct or indirect contact with infectious substances will be among those earliest to receive the vaccine, Persichilli said, adding that “the goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population in New Jersey in a six-month period.”
In the past week, roughly 3,500 New Jersey workers filed new unemployment claims, bringing the total to more than over 17,000. More than 1.8 million workers have filed claims since March, and the state has distributed some $19.7 billion in benefits, or about $14,000 per claimant on average, a figure Murphy described as “record-shattering.” Another round of FEMA lost wages assistance should arrive for more than 10,000 workers next week, he said.
Read our ongoing round-up of COVID-19 coverage here.
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.