Plus: Camden County residents 18 and older may now get walk-up vaccinations at the Blackwood vaccination site, including the Johnson and Johnson formulation, which is ‘un-paused’ by the CDC.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 26, 2021
Another 1,247 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 865,700 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
New Jersey is also reporting 311 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 123,186 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, 19 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 22,788 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,611 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
Since March 2020, 871 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 259 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 13.250 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with an 9.95-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.90, spot positivity highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 6.44 percent April 22; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 7.85 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 0.90 on April 24.
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 trending downward since April peak
Throughout New Jersey, 1,797 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (108) or confirmed (1,689) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 398 are in intensive or critical care, and 246 of the ICU and critical-care patients (57 percent) are on ventilators.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 170 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 209 others were discharged.
LTC cases and counts
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,407 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 223 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 55,739 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 6.3 percent of total cases.
That includes 32,742 residents and 21,997 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,025 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (35 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 286 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 1,352 workers, five 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, 357 of 1,123 patients and 1,044 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). 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, 254 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,125 individual cases have been traced to schools in all 21 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 17 outbreaks have been linked to 76 cases, fifth-most in the state.
Vaccination update: J&J resumes as some still missing second shots
Across New Jersey, 6.661 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered, and 4.091 million people have received at least one vaccine dose.
Throughout the state, 2.819 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, 381,705 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.
On Monday, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said that 91 percent of New Jerseyans taking a two-dose vaccine series have returned for their second dose, a figure that ramps up to 93 percent after six weeks, exceeding a national average of 88 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
People may miss their second appointments for any number of reasons, Persichilli said, including having died, been hospitalized, or moved out of the state. She also acknowledged the reality of “vaccine hesitancy,” and encouraged people “to seek out guidance from their healthcare professional” if they have lingering questions about the inoculation.
Persichilli also noted that vaccination sites across New Jersey will be resuming their delivery of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after the CDC “un-paused” its recommendation to halt use of the formulation amid certain complications for women with platelet issues.
NJ records 2,753 cases of variants of concern
Mutated offshoots of COVID-19, or “variants of concern,” continue to circulate throughout New Jersey; the state has traced 2,753 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, 2,535 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 has said
New Jersey also has recorded 76 cases of the P.1 “Brazilian” variant, six reports of the B.1.351 “South African” variant, and 136 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, NJ State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan said last week that 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.
Gathering limits increase May 10
In two weeks, New Jersey will take another step to increase capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events.
Starting May 10, outdoor gathering limits increase from 250 to 500 people, with outdoor carnivals, fairs, and venues of 1,000 or more fixed seats permitted to operate at 50 percent of capacity, up to 500 people, keeping six feet of distance between seated groups.
On the same day, indoor capacities for private catered events, funeral services, memorial services, performances, and political events will increase to 50 percent, up to a maximum of 250 individuals.
At such private, catered events, dance floors will be allowed to be reopened with masking and social distancing requirements intact; dance floors at bars, clubs, and other businesses must remain closed for now.
Murphy’s reason for toeing a “fine line” by allowing dancing at “once-in-a-lifetime” events, like wedding and proms, and not at nightclubs, is that state officials are hoping venues will police their guests according to the guidance issued by his administration.
Guidance for proms and graduations is expected later today from the New Jersey Health Department, Murphy said.
Should pandemic metrics improve in the coming weeks, the governor said he expects the outdoor gathering limits could expand again in the ramp-up to Memorial Day weekend, adding that he “certainly look[s]forward to our ability to increase indoor dining capacities in the near future.
“The only reason we’re able to announce all of these steps today is because of the tremendous work that millions of you are doing to help us crush the curves and end this pandemic,” Murphy said. “Keep getting vaccinated. That’s an incredibly important step we need to pursue.”
The governor also underscored the need to continue wearing masks outdoors in environments in which social distancing is not possible.
“If the numbers keep going in the right direction and people keep doing the right thing, including getting vaccinated, our capacities will continue to open up,” he said.
Camden County College vax site now accepting walk-ups
Camden County residents who wish to get vaccinated may now do so at the county vaccination site in Blackwood without an appointment, officials announced Monday.
Walk-in patients 18 and older can currently choose from among the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines; the county site cannot vaccinate anyone younger than 18.
Walk-ins will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; appointments may still be scheduled at CamdenCountyVaccine.com.
Camden City residents may receive their vaccines at the Kroc Center, which is administering the Moderna and Pfizer formulations, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Saturday, and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Appointments can be scheduled via my.cooperhealth.org or by calling 856-225-6141. Additional walk-up appointments may be available based on supply.
Camden City residents who need a ride to their vaccination appointment can call 856-283-3942 to get travel arrangements from Uber.
Anyone with more questions can reach the county vaccination information hotline at 856-549-0530.
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