Coronavirus Update: 629,360 Infections, 19,455 Related Deaths; Vax Appts Rescheduled at Megasites Amid Winter Storm


Officials report that Winter Storm Orlena may be the second-greatest to hit the state in terms of snowfall accumulation, behind only the Blizzard of ’96. A state of emergency remains in effect Tuesday.

By Matt Skoufalos | February 2, 2021

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 2-2-21. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 3,367 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 629,360 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Tuesday.

New Jersey is also reporting 2,811 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 74,136 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, 71 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 19,455 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,129 probable COVID-19-related deaths.

Since March, 690 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 220 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

More than 9.49 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 7.13-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.95

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, stood at 0.95 from samples taken January 28.

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

Hospitalizations continue to decline

Throughout New Jersey, 2,892 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

Among those hospitalized patients, 516 are in intensive or critical care, and 366 of the ICU and critical-care patients (70 percent) are on ventilators.

In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 297 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 254 others were discharged.

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,222 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 421 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 52,075 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, eight percent of total cases.

That includes 31,751 residents and 20,324 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,770 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (41 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 141 staff deaths.

Of 656 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 435 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 155 have died from complications related to the virus.

Six veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 294 have recovered from the virus.

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 330 of 1,141 patients and 808 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.

To date, 84 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

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, 131 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 629 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.

Across New Jersey overall, 824,028 vaccinations have been administered to date; 681,459 first doses, and 137,371 second doses. Of those, 48,195 have been administered in Camden County, seventh-most in the state.

Ambulatory Care Technician Sady Ferguson, right, administers a vaccination for COVID-19 to Medical Office Assistant Yvelisse Covington at University Hospital in Newark, NJ. Covington was among the first group of people in New Jersey to receive the vaccination. Credit: Kirsten Luce for The New York Times.

Megasites closed, patients rescheduled

The state’s six vaccine mega-sites were closed Monday and will remain closed Tuesday.

Individual healthcare providers will be reaching out to reschedule appointments, and the New Jersey Vaccination Call Center (855-568-0545) will remain open to pre-register patients, answer questions, and provide contact information.

No new appointments will be scheduled until the impact of the storm is assessed, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Winter Storm Orlena brings near-record accumulation

As work crews across New Jersey continued to clear the public roadways, New Jersey State Police Col. Pat Callahan noted that Winter Storm Orlena “may rank in the top five storms to ever hit New Jersey.”

With snowfall of 30 inches recorded in North Jersey, Orlena ranks second only to the historic Blizzard of 1996, and ahead of other record storms that hit the state in February 2001, December 2010, and January 2016.

Across Camden County, accumulation totals ranged from six to nearly 10 inches, according to reports from the U.S. National Weather Service – Mount Holly bureau.

Murphy urged residents to “let the road crews, power crews, and first responders have the roads to themselves” as precipitation tapers off throughout the day and into Tuesday night.

A state of emergency remains in effect throughout the day.

NJ Homeland Security Director Jared Maples. Credit: NJ Pen.

Concerns of domestic extremism persist

Finally, during Tuesday’s briefing, New Jersey Homeland Security Director Jared Maples noted that homeland security officials remain “concerned with domestic extremism” across the country, and urged residents “to be engaged, be aware of your surroundings, [and]  report suspicious activity.”

Maples also noted that officials are not tracking any specific or credible threat at the moment, and took the opportunity to urge residents to look out for one another during the extreme weather.

“This is the time to help your neighbors,” he said. “Go shovel their sidewalks. Make sure the fire hydrants are clear. Please do help your neighbor, your friends, your family. Be there for them, I implore you.”

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

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