Coronavirus Update: 555,299 Infections, 18,229 Related Deaths; Vaccine Demand Exceeds Available Supply by Factor of Five


New Jersey is currently receiving about 100,000 vaccine doses per week, but Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says the state could distribute nearly five times that number if supplies become available.

By Matt Skoufalos | January 15, 2021

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 1-15-21. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 5,490 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 555,299 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Friday.

New Jersey is also reporting 1,042 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 60,787 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, 67 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide death toll to 18,229 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,091 probable COVID-19-related deaths.

Since March, 614 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 207 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

More than 8.6 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 6.25-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.11, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 9.63 percent January 11; in South Jersey, it was highest at 10.13 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, rose to 1.11 from samples taken January 13.

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.

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

Two weeks after New Year’s Eve, hospitalizations stable at 3,500-3,700

Throughout New Jersey, 3,543 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (230) or confirmed (3,313) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said hospitalizations in the state have held steady at 3,500 to 3,700 per day for the two weeks after New Year’s Eve, “which is a good sign.”

Among those hospitalized patients, 626 are in intensive or critical care, and 438 of the ICU and critical-care patients (70 percent) are on ventilators.

In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 427 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 452 others were discharged.

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,196 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 426 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 51,791 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or nine percent of total cases.

That includes 31,298 residents and 20,493 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,644 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (42 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 140 staff deaths.

Of 656 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 433 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 154 have died from complications related to the virus.

Five veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 283 have recovered from the virus.

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 324 of 1,142 patients and 868 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.

To date, 75 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, Persichilli said.

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, 111 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 564 individual cases have been traced to schools in 19 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 13 outbreaks have been linked to 66 cases, second-most in the state.

NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli – COVID-19 Briefing 1-15-21. Credit: NJ Pen.

New Jerseyans registering for vaccine but supplies are limited

Across New Jersey overall, 310,595 vaccinations have been administered to date; 273,335 first doses, and 37,079 second doses.

Of those, 17,465 have been administered in Camden County.

Four million New Jerseyans are eligible for vaccination, but New Jersey is only receiving 100,000 doses per week, Persichilli said.

As supplies increase, additional appointments will be made available, and those who have pre-registered will be notified of them.

Throughout the state, 1.5 million residents have already signed up for their inoculations, and Persichilli said the department has a team working on a plan for “specific and vulnerable populations,” with mobile vans going into underserved communities to offer health education and vaccinations.

“We’re going to continue to be in this supply-demand imbalance in vaccinations,” Murphy said. “We’ll fight through it the best we can.”

Read our ongoing round-up of COVID-19 coverage here.

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