Plus: New Jersey will see its allocation of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine formulation drastically reduced in the coming weeks, even as the state hits 5 million doses.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 12, 2021
Another 2,079 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 839,114 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
New Jersey is also reporting 552 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 116,852 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, 27 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 22,323 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,573 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
Since March 2020, 854 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 254 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 12.578 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with an 9.52-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.94, spot positivity higher in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 8.39 percent April 8; in South Jersey, it was higher, at 8.80 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 0.94 on April 10.
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.
Hospitalizations stabilizing, but ventilator usage, deaths increasing
Throughout New Jersey, 2,261 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (111) or confirmed (2,150) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 448 are in intensive or critical care, and 241 of the ICU and critical-care patients (54 percent) are on ventilators.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 255 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 233 others were discharged.
“Overall, 48 percent of the new hospitalizations were under the age of 60,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. “This is a shift from our prior experience.”
LTC cases and counts
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,365 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 230 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 54,344 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 6.5 percent of total cases.
That includes 32,629 residents and 21,715 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 7,999 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (36 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 142 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.
Asked about potential impediments to New Jersey reaching its 70-percent-of-population vaccination threshold, Murphy said “the biggest hole continues to be long-term care staff,” among whom vaccinations seemingly have stalled despite Persichilli’s efforts.
“That’s something that’s got to change,” the governor said.
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.
Across New Jersey, 5.440 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered, and 3.461 million people have received at least one vaccine dose.
Throughout the state, 2.192 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, 323,235 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; it cleared 5 million doses over the weekend of April 10, 2021.
Of those New Jersey residents aged 65 and older, 75.4 percent have received at least one vaccine dose, as have 74.8 percent of those age 75 and older, Murphy said.
New Jersey will see a reduced allocation of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine formula in the coming weeks, Persichilli cautioned. From 131,000 doses received in the state last week, New Jersey will see its J&J allocation down to 15,600 this week, and down to as few as 5,200 doses next week.
“Since J&J is going to be scarce, and we want as many people as possible to be vaccinated, please take whatever dose is available to you,” Persichilli said.
NJ records 958 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 958 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, 936 B.1.1.7 cases have been spotted in the state.
It’s associated with a 50-percent increase in COVID-19 transmission over earlier strains of the virus detected in New Jersey, “and likely increased severity, based on hospitalization and case fatality rates,” 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 11 reports of the California variants B.1.427 (eight) and B.1.429 (three).
The South African variant demonstrated a 50-percent increase in transmission over other strains of COVID-19, and the California variants appear to show a 20-percent increase in transmission of the virus.
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.
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