Meanwhile, the highly transmissible delta variant is now the dominant variant in New Jersey, following national trends, and health officials warn of an increase in non-COVID-19, inter-seasonal viruses.
By Matt Skoufalos | July 12, 2021
Another 227 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 895,552 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
New Jersey is also reporting 65 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 130,734 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, eight more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 23,800 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,709 probable COVID-19-related deaths.
Since March 2020, 1,021 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 271 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 14.469 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 10.184-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 0.95, spot positivity highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 1.7 percent July 8; in South Jersey, it was 2.5 percent—highest in the state at that time.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 0.95 on July 12.
Any Rt figure less than 1.0 means that each new COVID-19 patient is infecting fewer than one other person, on average, and the spread of the virus is decreasing.
Since its mid-April-2020 COVID-19 spike, the highest reported RT in New Jersey was 1.48, recorded August 1, 2020. Prior to artificially low, adjusted reports of 0.34 in the first week of May, the lowest in the past year was 0.62, recorded June 9, 2020. On May 21, 2021, it reached a new low, of 0.59.
Hospitalizations remain flat
Throughout New Jersey, 312 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (63) or confirmed (249) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 58 are in intensive or critical care, and 26 of the ICU and critical-care patients (58 percent) are on ventilators.
In 67 of New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 28 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 28 others were discharged.
“People who are not vaccinated remain at risk [of contracting the virus],” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Monday.
“Virtually all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among those who are unvaccinated,” Persichilli said.
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,490 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 15 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 55,030 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 6.1 percent of total cases.
That includes 32,797 residents and 22,233 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,063 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (34 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 144 staff deaths.
Of 633 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. No resident is currently COVID-19-positive.
The facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland are staffed by 1,340 workers, one of whom is presently COVID-19-positive. The facilities have sustained two staff deaths related to the virus.
At state-run psychiatric facilities, 367 of 1,133 patients and 1,080 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, 128 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 for the illness.
Since August 1, 2020, 281 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,263 individual cases have been traced to schools in all 21 New Jersey counties. In Camden County, 18 outbreaks have been linked to 78 cases, sixth-most in the state.
Vaccination update: NJ surpasses 4.9M fully vaccinated people, 10M doses administered
Across New Jersey, 10.059 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered.
Throughout New Jersey, 4.960 million people have been fully vaccinated in-state, 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, 537,001 doses have been administered; seventh-most in the state.
An estimated 355,649 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 153,259 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, and two weeks later, it had surpassed 8 million doses.
As of June 2, 2021, the state had cleared 9 million administered doses and 4 million fully vaccinated New Jerseyans, and on June 18, hit 4.7 million vaccinated individuals, its target goal for 70 percent of the adult population of the state.
B.1.617.2 ‘Delta’ variant now most common variant in NJ
Mutated offshoots of COVID-19, or “variants of concern,” continue to circulate throughout New Jersey; the state has traced thousands of such cases to date, despite performing gene sequencing on roughly 2 percent of positive samples, Dr. Ed Lifshitz, head of the New Jersey communicable disease service, has said.
Two weeks ago, Persichilli noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believed the B.1.617.2 “delta” variant, initially identified in India in December 2020, could become the leading variant in the United States within the next month.
Last Wednesday, that prediction was fulfilled.
The delta variant is now the most common variant in the United States, surpassing the B.1.1.7 “alpha variant” first discovered in the United Kingdom, the commissioner said, citing “a steady rise” in its prevalence.
State epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan said Monday that the delta variant now accounts for 41 percent of the proportionate variants in New Jersey. Persichilli described it as “highly transmissible.”
The New Jersey Communicable Disease Service also continues to track the alpha variant as well as B.1.526, which originated in New York state, the P.1 “Brazilian” variant, and California variants B.1.427 and B.1.429.
NJ Launches Docket app for digital access to COVID-19 vaccine status
In an effort to expand access to consumer immunization records, the New Jersey Health Department has rolled out Docket, a mobile application created in collaboration with Docket Health Inc. of New York, New York.
The app is intended to “be helpful to those who have lost their vaccination card, or [whose card has] become damaged, or [who want] quick access to their record[s],” Persichilli said.
The commissioner said the app can improve ease of access to COVID-19 vaccination information and eliminate turnaround time for those who want a copy of their COVID-19 immunization history; those who lost their vaccine cards previously were required to mail information to the state health department with supportive documentation, and await hard copies in response.
Docket only currently provides access to the individual records of those people vaccinated in-state, and who have contact information on file with the New Jersey Immunization Information Service (NJIIS). In the future, Persichilli said the CDC-approved application could be used to digitally manage all immunizations.
Docket is available in the iTunes App store as well as on Google Play in English and Spanish-language versions.
COVID-19 boosters and seasonal illnesses
As vaccine developer Pfizer seeks CDC authorization for a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, Persichilli noted that manufacturers are exploring “whether or when a booster is necessary” to maintain protections conferred by the shot.
“Fully vaccinated Americans may not need a third dose,” the commissioner said.
Finally, Tan noted that the CDC has alerted states that it’s observing an increase in the number of non-COVID-19 inter-seasonal respiratory viruses circulating throughout the country. She attributed the uptick in cases to a general relaxing of the public health mandates that were established during the pandemic.
“When you minimize other precautions, such as masking or social distancing, those are always concerns that you’re going to see that emergence,” Tan said.
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