Coronavirus Update: 990,671 Infections, 24,491 Related Deaths; Seven NJ Districts Pivot to Remote Learning After In-School Transmissions


Plus: a breakdown of the impact on the pandemic on younger New Jersey residents, as the impact of the Delta variant stretches through its third month.

By Matt Skoufalos | September 22, 2021

COVID-19 Dashboard – 9-22-21. Credit: NJDOH.

Another 2,027 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 990,671 cases confirmed via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Governor Phil Murphy reported Wednesday.

New Jersey is also reporting 538 new COVID-probable cases based on antigen tests, bringing the statewide total to 148,696 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, 24 more residents have perished from complications related to the virus, bringing the statewide, confirmed death toll to 24,491 lives lost during the pandemic.

In addition to those lab-confirmed fatalities, the state has acknowledged another 2,773 probable COVID-19-related deaths.

Since March 2020, 1,030 of every 100,000 New Jersey residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 278 of every 100,000 have died from COVID-19-related complications.

More than 15.329 million polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 have been performed statewide, with a 11.246-percent positivity rate per 100,000 residents.

Rate of transmission (Rt) at 1.06, spot positivity highest in South Jersey

The statewide average of COVID-19 spot positivity testing based on PCR test results stood at 6.52 percent September 18; in South Jersey, it was highest, at 7.65 percent.

Rt, the variable that describes the seven-day, rolling-average, statewide rate of transmission of new COVID-19 cases, hit 1.06 on September 22.

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, 1,152 people currently are hospitalized with a suspected (81) or confirmed (1,071) case of COVID-19, Murphy said.

Among those hospitalized patients, 267 are in intensive or critical care, and 144 of the ICU and critical-care patients (54 percent) are on ventilators.

In New Jersey’s 71 critical care hospitals, 152 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 yesterday, while 144 others were discharged.

“We continue to see a leveling of the numbers across each category, which is a bit of a double-edged sword,” Murphy said.

“It is good to not see these numbers increasing as they had been a few weeks ago, but it is not so good to not yet see a meaningful decrease,” he said.

LTC update

Across the state, long-term care (LTC) centers have reported 1,705 cumulative outbreaks of COVID-19, and 158 are dealing with an active outbreak. LTCs account for 56,455 infected patients and staff in New Jersey, or 5.7 percent of total cases.

That includes 33,548 residents and 22,907 staffers sickened by the virus, as well as 8,523 lab-confirmed resident and staff deaths (35 percent of the statewide confirmed total), with facilities self-reporting 145 staff deaths.

Of 649 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. Six residents currently are COVID-19-positive.

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

At state-run psychiatric hospitals, 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, 293 COVID-19 outbreaks encompassing 1,303 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, 11.517 million COVID-19 inoculations have been administered.

Throughout New Jersey, 5.611 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, 610,391 doses have been administered, seventh-most in the state; 301,626 people have been fully vaccinated.

An estimated 425,595 vaccine doses have been administered to New Jersey residents outside of the state, of which 183,228 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. By the end of August 2021, the state had exceeded 11 million doses administered and had begun approaching 6 million fully vaccinated residents.

NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli – 9-22-21. Credit: NJ Pen.

In-school transmission, remote learning, vaccination

Since the resumption of in-person schooling just three weeks ago, 22 different New Jersey school districts have reported at least one case of school-related COVID-19 transmission.

In total, 23 outbreaks have been reported across those 22 districts, affecting 82 students and 20 staffers.

New Jersey Department of Education Acting Commissioner Angela Allen-McMillan said Wednesday that seven schools across the state have pivoted to remote learning in response to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Currently 59 percent of those New Jerseyans aged 12 to 17 and 55 percent of those 12 to 15 have received at least one vaccine dose, said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli; among those aged 16 and 17, that percentage jumps to 68 percent.

Persichilli urged parents to help adolescents and teens get those numbers up, especially to protect younger children for whom a COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been authorized. About two percent of all cases are attributable to children younger than four, said New Jersey Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan.

Persichilli also noted that all 133 New Jersey juveniles who suffered a case of MISC also were infected with COVID-19. Seven New Jerseyans 18 and younger have perished from COVID-19-related complications.

“High vaccination rates along with testing and a layered prevention approach that includes masking, frequent hand-washing, physical distancing, and staying home when you’re sick, is important to protecting students and staff from COVID-19,” the health commissioner said.

All school staff and personnel are required to be fully vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing, as per statewide mandate. Persichilli said that 758 public school districts and non-public schools have signed up to participate in state-run programs for that testing, a figure encompassing 552 local public education agencies, 256 non-public schools, and 1.4 million students and staff.

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