Coronavirus Update: 977,517 Infections, 24,356 Related Deaths; Six School-Related Outbreaks Since Classes Have Begun


Twenty people, a mix of students and staff, were reported to have been infected during outbreaks originating at six schools across New Jersey.

By Matt Skoufalos | September 15, 2021

NJ COVID-19 Dashboard – 9-15-21. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 1,815 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 977,517 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.

New Jersey is also reporting 582 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 145,847 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, 21 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 24,356 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,766 probable COVID-19-related deaths.

Since March 2020, 1,025 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 277 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

More than 15.207 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 11.098-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.01, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 7.45 percent September 11; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 9.31 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.01 on September 15.

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.

Simulated COVID-19 patient in a hospital bed. Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Hospitalizations holding steady, ventilator use on the rise

Throughout New Jersey, 1,155 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (68) or confirmed (1,087) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

Among those hospitalized patients, 275 are in intensive or critical care, and 136 of the ICU and critical-care patients (53 percent) are on ventilators.

In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 164 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 139 others were discharged.

LTC update

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,682 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 149 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 56,296 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 5.8 percent of total cases.

That includes 33,478 residents and 22,818 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,497 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (34 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 145 staff deaths.

Of 651 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. Three residents currently are COVID-19-positive.

The facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland are staffed by 1,366 workers, nine of whom are presently COVID-19-positive. The facilities have sustained two staff deaths related to the virus.

At state-run psychiatric facilities, 374 of 1,135 patients and 1,136 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, 133 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, 287 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,283 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.

That includes six more schools that have reported outbreaks—three or more students or staff who contracted the virus within the school—since the start of the year, affecting 20 people, a mix of students and staff.

COVID-19 vaccine bottle mock-up. Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Vaccination update: NJ approaches 6M fully vaccinated people, exceeds 11M doses administered

Across New Jersey, 11.432 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered.

Throughout New Jersey, 5.557 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, 605,271 doses have been administered; seventh-most in the state.

An estimated 419,387 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 180,482 residents are estimated to have been fully vaccinated.

The rate of vaccinations across the state has been flagging, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Wednesday, owing to “some data lags” in the state reporting mechanisms, combined with the Labor Day holiday and summer vacations, as well as the impact of Tropical Storm Ida, which hit New Jersey in early September.

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. By the end of August 2021, the state had exceeded 11 million doses administered and was approaching 6 million fully vaccinated residents.

Booster update

New Jersey officials continue to anticipate forthcoming guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the administration of booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to guard against potentially waning immunity to the virus.

“We continue to pound away at planning for whatever the FDA advisory committee on immunization practices sends our way,” Murphy said. “When we do have final guidance, we will get that to you with all the vital information that you need.”

Monoclonal antibodies, flu shots

On Wednesday, Persichilli spoke about the use of monoclonal antibodies to prevent hospitalizations, reduce viral loads, and lessen symptom severity in the treatment of COVID-19.

This therapeutic approach is available to people aged 12 and older and weighing at least 88 pounds who have tested positive for the virus, are within 10 days of the onset of their symptoms, and are “at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19,” the commissioner said.

Persichilli also urged residents to get a flu vaccine as well as a COVID-19 vaccine, as both are “likely” to spread this winter. She noted that both immunizations can be given at the same time, and that each is formulated to treat the specific class of virus (influenza and coronavirus) for which it is administered.

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