As everyone in the United States 16 and older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, officials urge residents to make appointments for their shots while masking up to ward off increasing numbers of variant cases.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 19, 2021
Another 1,935 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 860,447 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
New Jersey is also reporting 388 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 120,589 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, 18 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 22,569 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,592 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
Since March 2020, 862 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 256 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 12.749 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with an 9.77-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.92, spot positivity highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 8.18 percent April 15; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 8.91 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 17.
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, 2,062 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (114) or confirmed (1,948) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 435 are in intensive or critical care, and 250 of the ICU and critical-care patients (57 percent) are on ventilators.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 233 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 208 others were discharged.
LTC cases and counts
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,389 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 236 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 54,616 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 6.3 percent of total cases.
That includes 32,719 residents and 21,897 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,011 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (36 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 143 staff deaths.
Of 608 veterans residing in three state-run homes, 456 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 156 have died from complications related to the virus. The facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland are staffed by 1,353 workers, two of whom are presently COVID-19-positive. The facilities have sustained two staff deaths related to the virus.
Presently, no veterans are hospitalized with COVID-19; 300 have recovered from the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 316 of 1,108 patients and 1,019 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, 115 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC), said New Jersey State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan. 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, 245 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,094 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, 6.068 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered, and 3.80 million people have received at least one vaccine dose.
Throughout the state, 2.507 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, 355,398 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, and the state cleared 5 million doses over the weekend of April 10, 2021. Eight days after that, New Jersey hit the 6-million-dose mark.
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.
NJ records 1,936 cases of variants of concern
Mutated offshoots of COVID-19, or “variants of concern,” continue to circulate throughout New Jersey; the state has traced 1,936 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, 1,815 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,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said last week.
New Jersey also has recorded 36 cases of the P.1 “Brazilian” variant, three reports of the B.1.351 “South African” variant, and 82 reports of the California variants B.1.427 and B.1.429.
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.
Although it’s “too early to predict” the trajectory of the pandemic in New Jersey, Tan said residents can be “cautiously optimistic.” According to Tan, the state and country overall remain “in this delicate balance,” of widely circulating virus—67,000 new cases per day, nationally, on a seven-day rolling average—and increasing vaccination totals.
With vaccine appointments now open to all who want them aged 16 and older, health officials are hoping to bring the pandemic to heel soon.
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