Plus: Murphy fires back at critics of his school masking mandate: ‘They will just accept an untold number of asymptomatic children spreading the delta variant.’
By Matt Skoufalos | August 9, 2021
Another 884 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 917,349 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Monday.
New Jersey is also reporting 306 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 132,734 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, three more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 23,930 lives lost during the pandemic.
In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,720 probable COVID-19-related deaths—one more than previously reported.
Since March 2020, 1,037 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 272 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.
More than 14.792 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 10.424-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.
Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.43, spot positivity highest in South Jersey
The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 5.18 percent July 29; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 6.74 percent.
Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.43 on August 5.
Any 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 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 trending up
Throughout New Jersey, 648 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (78) or confirmed (570) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.
Among those hospitalized patients, 117 are in intensive or critical care, and 59 of the ICU and critical-care patients (50 percent) are on ventilators.
In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 79 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 82 others were discharged.
Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,548 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 61 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 55,269 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 6.1 percent of total cases.
That includes 32,927 residents and 22,342 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,065 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (34 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 144 staff deaths.
Of 648 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; four staffers presently are.
The facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland are staffed by 1,370 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, 368 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, 130 New Jersey children aged 1 to 18 have been diagnosed with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC)—two more than previously reported. 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 5M fully vaccinated people, 10.5M doses administered
Across New Jersey, 10.505 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered.
Throughout New Jersey, 5.195 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, 556,873 doses have been administered; seventh-most in the state.
An estimated 386,627 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 167,147 residents 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. By mid-July, that number had increased to 5.019 people fully vaccinated at New Jersey vaccination sites.
Updated breakthrough case numbers reflect strong vaccine performance
In a sampling of data from July 20 to July 26, fully vaccinated individuals accounted for 18.5 percent of new cases (803 of 4,332 new COVID-19 positive test results), but just three percent of all new hospitalizations (11 of 378) and no deaths (0 of 21).
As of July 26, 2021, New Jersey was home to 4,981,445 fully vaccinated individuals.
Among those 4.9 million people, only 7,112 COVID cases have been reported (0.14 percent), 212 people have been hospitalized (0.004 percent), and 50 died from COVID-related causes (0.001 percent).
“What we do know is that the vaccines are really effective against hospitalizations,” said New Jersey State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan. “They’re also really effective against death,” she said.
Murphy critiques political opponents who downplay risks of pediatric COVID cases
On Monday, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli warned of greater numbers of children falling ill due to the delta variant.
Nearly 72,000 children across the United States tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week of July, an 80-percent week-over-week increase, Persichilli said.
Currently, 13 New Jersey children are hospitalized with COVID-19, two in intensive-care units; seven have died from COVID-related complications throughout the pandemic.
In a nod to that data, Murphy opened Monday’s briefing with a warning about dismissing the severity of the impact of the virus on children.
“There are those on one side in this who will preface these numbers with the word ‘only,’” he said.
“They are essentially perfectly accepting of these numbers.
“This is what ‘only’ means to them,” the governor continued.
“They are saying they’re fine with kids—many, by the way, still too young to be vaccinated—contracting COVID.
“They will just accept an untold number of asymptomatic children spreading the delta variant among their educators and friends in their schools, or taking COVID home to spread among their families and communities,” Murphy said.
“When they say ‘only,’ they are saying they are perfectly willing to accept children landing in the ICU or dying of COVID,” he said. “They won’t say it out loud, but that’s exactly what they are saying, and I can’t be kind about that.”
Murphy also defended his announcement on Friday that New Jersey school districts would begin the 2021-22 school year requiring full masking of students, staff, and visitors, saying that the measure is a necessary mitigation strategy amid current COVID-19 caseloads.
“We are not going to sacrifice the health of any child, any educator, any family, or any community,” the governor said. “We are not just going to let COVID shut down our schools. Having our schools open for full-time, in-person instruction is critical for our recovery, especially for working families and especially for working moms. That is exactly what this is about.”
Later in the briefing, Murphy also added that he hopes and expects that the mask mandate will be a temporary one if delta variant cases recede within a few weeks, as they have done overseas, and that, “by smart adherence to public health measures, that we accelerate its leaving,” he said.
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