New Jersey has also crossed the threshold of more than 23,000 confirmed deaths related to complications from COVID-19.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 5, 2021
Another 1,309 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 877,814 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.
New Jersey is also reporting 1,700 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 126,711 positive antigen tests.
The majority of these results are a result of delayed reporting; 1,402 specimens were collected two weeks ago, and the bulk of those were from Bergen County, said State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan.
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, 34 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 23,067 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,640 probable COVID-19-related deaths—15 more than had been previously reported.
Since March 2020, 874 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 262 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 13.636 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with an 9.974-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.34, spot positivity highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 6.87 percent May 1; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 7.62 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 0.34 May 3, an eight-month low.
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. Prior to Wednesday’s report, the lowest in the past year was 0.62, recorded June 9, 2020.
Hospitalizations continue to decline
Throughout New Jersey, 1,382 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (115) or confirmed (1,267) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 314 are in intensive or critical care, and 196 of the ICU and critical-care patients (62 percent) are on ventilators.
On Monday, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli noted that the state’s hospital metrics are at lows unseen since June 2020, after the initial wave of the virus had subsided across the state.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 149 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 186 others were discharged.
LTC update: NJ must increase staff vaccinations
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,432 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 215 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 54,954 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 6.2 percent of total cases.
That includes 32,840 residents and 22,114 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,031 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (35 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 144 staff deaths.
Of 613 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. Three hundred veterans have recovered from the virus.
The facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland are staffed by 1,344 workers, five of whom are presently COVID-19-positive. The facilities have sustained two staff deaths related to 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, 116 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, 263 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,157 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: NJ surpasses 3.2M fully vaccinated people
Across New Jersey, 7.282 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered.
Throughout the state, 3.210 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, more than 388,932 doses have been administered; seventh-most in the state.
An estimated 357,974 New Jersey residents have received a vaccine dose outside of the state, of which 157,928 are estimated to have been fully vaccinated.
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. By May 3, 2021, the state had cleared 7 million doses administered.
According to Tan, New Jersey residents across various age groups have received at least one vaccine dose:
- 85 percent of those 65 and older
- 68 percent of those 50-64
- 53 percent of those 30-49
- 35 percent of those 16-29
The state is working to make access to vaccinations easier to come by, facilitating walk-up vaccinations at its vaccine megasites—no appointments necessary—and incentivizing inoculations with free beers at participating craft breweries through the statewide “Shot and a Beer” program.
NJ records 3,253 cases of variants of concern
Mutated offshoots of COVID-19, or “variants of concern,” continue to circulate throughout New Jersey; the state has traced 3,253 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, 2,998 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 104 cases of the P.1 “Brazilian” variant, seven reports of the B.1.351 “South African” variant, and 144 reports of the California variants B.1.427 and B.1.429.
The South African variant has 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.
An unknown number of cases has 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.
Outlier COVID-19 cases
In addition to commonly reported data points, New Jersey health officials are tracking COVID-19 outlier statistics, including the number of residents who’ve suffered repeat infections of the virus, and those who constitute “breakthrough” cases; i.e., those who test positive for the virus at least two weeks after having been completely vaccinated.
There are technical issues around calculating these data, Lifshitz said, including communications among various vaccination repositories, and complications related to testing positive as recovered persons continue to shed viral particles. However, he said that officials “do have a general idea” about this information, and expects to be able to report it “within the next week or so.”
Homebound vaccination program
Those New Jersey residents who cannot leave their homes due to physical or behavioral health concerns may request a vaccination appointment through the state. Home health agencies will receive dose allocations in order to deliver these shots.
To register for the program, visit covid19.nj.gov/homeboundvax, call 855-568-0545, or text “READYNJ” to 898-211.
Medicaid members may schedule transportation to a vaccine appointment by calling Medicare at 1-866-527-9933 at least 48 hours ahead of time and notifying respondents that the trip is for a vaccination.
Murphy: labor shortage ‘a passing reality’
Amid ongoing reports that small businesses in New Jersey are struggling to staff their workplaces, the governor was asked whether he’d be in favor of discontinuing extended unemployment benefits for those who are still collecting them.
Murphy affirmed that the state has no plan to do so, adding, “Our evidence is pretty overwhelmingly that people are doing the right thing and have suffered tremendously.
“I’m not denying the anecdotal evidence that folks are having a hard time hiring people,” he said. “But the overwhelming number of folks who’ve been hit economically have suffered enormously. The benefits are needed for them and their families.
“Second, it’s a passing reality,” the governor said; “these benefits are not forever and always. It’s temporary.”
Murphy also said that when federal guidance for how American Rescue Plan funds may be spent is issued, “a lot of that money is going to go into restaurants, bars, hospitality, small businesses, and that’s one other answer to this challenge right now.”
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.