Coronavirus Update: 653,955 Infections, 20,004 Related Deaths; NJ Vaccine Call Center ‘Pauses’ Agent Scheduling


Plus: 33 cases of the B.1.1.7 variants of the COVID-19 virus have been detected in 11 counties, and PPP loans will not be subject to state taxes. Expenses related to the program are also tax-deductible.

By Matt Skoufalos | February 10, 2021

NJDOH COVID-19 Dashboard – 2-10-21. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 3,740 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 653,955 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.

New Jersey is also reporting 885 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 78,719 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, 88 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 20,004 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,246 probable COVID-19-related deaths—59 more than previously reported.

Since March 2020, 705 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 228 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

More than 9.83 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 7.43-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.92, spot positivity lowest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 12.16 percent February 6; in South Jersey, it was lowest, at 9.62 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 0.81 from samples taken February 8.

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 on the downswing

Throughout New Jersey, 2,786 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (181) or confirmed (2,605) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

Among those hospitalized patients, 533 are in intensive or critical care, and 341 of the ICU and critical-care patients (64 percent) are on ventilators.

In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 307 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 383 others were discharged.

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,236 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 406 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 52,594 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, eight percent of total cases.

That includes 31,953 residents and 20,641 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,831 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (39 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 143 staff deaths.

Of 656 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 437 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 155 have died from complications related to the virus.

Eight veterans presently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 295 have recovered from the virus.

MISC cases; schools

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 332 of 1,151 patients and 935 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and seven staffers have died from complications related to the virus.

To date, 88 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC), according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

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, and three currently are.

Since August 1, 142 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 671 individual cases have been traced to schools in 19 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 14 outbreaks have been linked to 70 cases, second-most in the state.

COVID-19 vaccine bottle mock-up. Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Vaccination update

Across New Jersey overall, 1.138 million vaccinations have been administered to date; 875,424 first doses, and 263,196 second doses.

Of those, 65,473 have been administered in Camden County, seventh-most in the state.

The state will see a 6,000-dose increase in its federal vaccine allocation next week, Persichilli said.

In total, New Jersey will receive 87,400 Moderna doses and 55,575 Pfizer doses for first-round immunizations, as well as another 56,100 Moderna doses and 55,575 Pfizer doses, which have been reserved for second-round immunizations.

More than 20,000 vaccine doses have been provided to 20 CVS and 70 Rite Aid sites that will begin vaccinating eligible New Jersey LTC residents next week through the Federal Pharmacy Program for COVID vaccinations, Persichilli said.

Finally, the federal government will be shipping vaccine doses directly to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) across the country, although New Jersey was not selected for the first phase of the program. FQHCs provide care to residents of underserved communities regardless of the ability of patients to pay.

33 B.1.1.7 cases reported in New Jersey

Two more cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, also known as “the UK variant,” have been identified in New Jersey, Persichilli reported, bringing the statewide total to 33 cases.

That’s up from a total of 31 cases earlier this week. They are dispersed across the state as follows:

  • Ocean County – 12
  • Essex County – six
  • Burlington County – four
  • Middlesex, Monmouth, and Morris Counties – two each
  • Atlantic, Hudson, Mercer, Passaic, and Warren Counties – one each


Only three of the B.1.1.7 patients had known travel histories, the commissioner said.

Officials continue to track the incidence of the variant, which is believed to be no more dangerous than other strains of COVID-19, but significantly more easily spread.

NJ Vaccine Call Center scheduling powers temporarily disabled

Persichilli also announced Wednesday that the state will be putting “a temporary pause” on the ability of agents at its vaccine call center to schedule appointments. This was done out of a need to streamline the system on the agent end “to prevent scheduling errors and offer further training to agents,” the commissioner said.

PPP loans not subject to state taxes, expenses paid will be tax-deductible

Finally, Murphy announced Wednesday that businesses that have received loans through the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will not be required to pay state taxes on them. Moreover, all business expenses paid with those loans will be tax-deductible, a change that the governor said mirrors new federal policy under the Biden administration.

“This is another welcome bit of news for our small business owners, more than 155,000 of whom received more than $17 billion through the plans,” Murphy said.

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

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