Coronavirus Update: 824,179 Infections, 22,176 Related Deaths; Variants on the Rise


New Jersey has reported nearly 830 cases involving ‘variants of concern’ throughout the state. The UK variant, or B.1.1.7, accounts for 806 of them.

By Matt Skoufalos | April 7, 2021

NJDHS COVID-19 Dashboard – 4-7-21. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 3,578 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 824,179 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.

New Jersey is also reporting 1,067 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 113,800 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, 45 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 22,176 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,573 probable COVID-19-related deaths—five more than previously reported.

Since March 2020, 848 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 252 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

More than 12.372 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with an 9.33-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.04, spot positivity lowest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 12.37 percent April 3; in South Jersey, it was lowest, at 10.82 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.04 on April 5.

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-2020 COVID-19 spike, the highest reported RT in New Jersey was 1.48, recorded August 1, 2020. The lowest was 0.62, recorded June 9, 2020.

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

Hospitalizations on the rise again

Throughout New Jersey, 2,375 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (131) or confirmed (2,244) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

Among those hospitalized patients, 455 are in intensive or critical care, and 249 of the ICU and critical-care patients (55 percent) are on ventilators.

In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 367 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 338 others were discharged.

“Hospitalizations remain high, and we are seeing increases among younger individuals, which wasn’t what we saw previously,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

LTC cases and counts

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,348 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 226 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 54,285 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 6.7 percent of total cases.

That includes 32,553 residents and 21,732 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,994 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (36 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 143 staff deaths.

Of 656 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 439 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 220 have died from complications related to the virus.

Presently, four veterans are hospitalized with COVID-19; 300 have recovered from the virus.

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 346 of 1,127 patients and 1,002 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen patients and eight staffers have died from complications related to the virus.

MISC cases and schools

To date, 114 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC), Persichilli said. Four of those cases were reported in Camden County, tied with Cumberland and Monmouth Counties for third-least 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. No deaths have been associated with this syndrome in New Jersey, although several children have been hospitalized during their treatment.

Since August 1, 2020, 240 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,070 individual cases have been traced to schools in 19 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 16 outbreaks have been linked to 74 cases, fifth-most in the state.

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

Vaccination update

Across New Jersey, 4.892 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered, and 3.121 million people have received at least one vaccine dose.

Throughout the state, 1.896 million people are fully vaccinated, having received either a one-shot formulation from Johnson and Johnson or both doses of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

In Camden County, 291,316 doses have been administered; seventh-most in the state.

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.

Persichilli noted that 75 percent of those New Jersey residents 65 and older have had at least one vaccine dose to date.

NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli – COVID-19 Briefing 4-7-21. Credit: NJ Pen.

NJ records 827 cases of variants of concern

Mutated offshoots of COVID-19, or “variants of concern,” continue to circulate throughout New Jersey; Persichilli reported that the state has traced 827 such cases to date.

The most common COVID-19 variant in the United States is the B.1.1.7, or “UK” variant, which has been detected in all 21 New Jersey counties.

In total, 806 B.1.1.7 cases have been spotted in the state.

“We must make the assumption that the UK variant is throughout our state, and in high numbers,” Persichilli said.

New Jersey also has recorded nine cases of the P.1 “Brazilian” variant, two reports of the B.1.351 “South African” variant, and 10 reports of the California variants B.1.427 and B.1.429.

Cases have also been reported of strain B.1.526, which has been reported as originating in New York.

Roughly 2 percent of positive samples are being tested for variants, said Dr. Ed Lifshitz, head of the New Jersey communicable disease service, adding that state officials would like to increase testing to better be able to trace those variants.

Murphy clarifies executive order around athletic events, self-service retail

In an update today, Murphy also clarified rules on gathering limits for non-professional and non-collegiate indoor sporting activities as well as those for self-service food stations in retail businesses.

The indoor gathering limit of 25 people remains in effect, but athletes, coaches, as many as two parents or guardians per participating athlete under 21, and “other individuals necessary for the practice or competition” do not count towards that limit.

“Operators of such sports activities may permit up to two parents or guardians per participating athlete under the age of 21 to attend the event provided that all attendees abide by the applicable requirements in the DOH’s ‘Guidance for Sports Activities,’” Murphy’s office noted in a press release today.

“In no case shall the number of persons present in the room, inclusive of parents and guardians, exceed 35 percent of the capacity of the room,” the statement noted.

The same order also clarifies that retailers can again allow patrons to access self-service food stations, including buffets and salad bars. Those self-service stations can only be operated if they can be routinely cleaned and disinfected.

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

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