An additional 4,686 COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths were announced Sunday as vaccine appointments in New Jersey remained difficult to secure.
The state recently expanded vaccine eligibility to those over 65, residents with certain health conditions and smokers, creating a backlog for appointments when vaccines promised by the federal government did not materialize.
“Governors were given assurances by @HHSGov that we’d receive additional vaccines from the national reserve for our seniors, health care workers, and first responders,” Murphy wrote Saturday on Twitter. “We need answers for why this stockpile doesn’t exist and our allocations have been reduced from what we expected.”
Murphy added that the vaccine would be distributed to those at “higher risk” of severe cases of COVID-19 due to their age and underlying conditions.
“Our first priority is to vaccinate those at higher risk for severe COVID due to age and chronic health factors — and to have the infrastructure in place to rapidly scale up distribution when federal supply meets demand,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.
The 7-day average for new confirmed coronavirus cases is now 5,367, up 4% from a week ago and 13% from a month ago.
Hospitalization data for Sunday was not immediately available. There were 3,677 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases as of Friday night. That marked 134 more than the previous night and an increase after two days when the number of people hospitalized dropped.
The state of 9 million residents has now lost 20,439 residents in the COVID-19 outbreak — 18,348 confirmed deaths and 2,091 considered probable, according to state data. New Jersey has already announced 1,252 confirmed deaths this month, following 1,890 in December.
New Jersey has reported 565,097 total confirmed cases out of more than 8.6 million tests administered since officials announced the state’s first case March 4. There have also been 62,124 positive rapid antigen tests, which the state began reporting publicly earlier this month, though officials have cautioned that they could overlap with the confirmed PCR tests.
The statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission remained steady at 1.12. A transmission rate over 1 indicates the outbreak is expanding.
The positivity rate for tests administered on Wednesday, the most recent day available, was 10.12% out of 54,903 tests. The positivity rate had been at 10% or higher since Dec. 22, before dipping below 10% on Monday.
New Jersey’s top health official warned Wednesday that the state is preparing for a “surge” in hospitalizations from the latest spike in cases that could come as soon as next week and may trigger a new round of restrictions, particularly involving elective surgeries.
While hospitalizations have remained between 3,500 and 3,900 for weeks — far below the peak of more than 8,000 in the spring — state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said hospital officials are concerned about the weeks ahead due to available staffing.
“What we will not have is the appropriate level of staffing that people are familiar with, conventional staffing,” Persichilli previously said. “So we will be working with our hospitals if they need to progress to what we call contingency staffing, and hopefully never crisis staffing.”
Murphy has warned that hospitalizations above 5,000 patients would likely trigger new restrictions — particularly involving elective surgeries, which include procedures like removing tumors.
More than 348,414 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state as of Sunday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. Of those, 308,874 were the first of two doses people will receive, while 39,330 were the second, according to the dashboard.
The single-day high so far was Jan. 8, when 24,482 doses were administered, according to the state.
New Jersey has averaged about 9,500 shots a day through the first 30 days of the program, including Christmas Day when no doses were administered. The state has been averaging about 17,000 shots a day over the past seven days, state records show.
The state has faced criticism for rolling out inoculations too slowly. Officials stress there may be an undercounting of the number of vaccines administered because of reporting delays and New Jersey, like other states, is depending on the federal government for its supply.
Murphy announced Wednesday that people 65 years and older, as well as people with chronic health conditions and smokers are now eligible to get vaccinations.
Officials have said doses should be available for the general public by April or May. Health officials have said they hope to vaccinate 70% of the state’s adult residents — about 4.7 million people — by the end of May.
In recent days, New Jersey has opened the first three of its six planned “mega-sites” for mass vaccinations. There are also vaccines currently available at 130 locations throughout the state, including local health departments, ShopRite stores and pharmacies.
More than 1.5 million people have registered to get their vaccine.
VACCINE DOSES ADMINISTERED BY COUNTY
- ATLANTIC COUNTY – 11,485 doses administered
- BERGEN COUNTY – 39,504 doses administered
- BURLINGTON COUNTY – 16,936 doses administered
- CAMDEN COUNTY – 19,691 doses administered
- CAPE MAY COUNTY – 5,107 doses administered
- CUMBERLAND COUNTY – 5,575 doses administered
- ESSEX COUNTY – 27,451 doses administered
- GLOUCESTER COUNTY – 12,319 doses administered
- HUDSON COUNTY – 15,064 doses administered
- HUNTERDON COUNTY – 5,744 doses administered
- MERCER COUNTY – 8,151 doses administered
- MIDDLESEX COUNTY – 25,934 doses administered
- MONMOUTH COUNTY – 27,141 doses administered
- MORRIS COUNTY – 18,251 doses administered
- OCEAN COUNTY – 25,122 doses administered
- PASSAIC COUNTY – 15,882 doses administered
- SALEM COUNTY – 1,704 doses administered
- SOMERSET COUNTY – 14,010 doses administered
- SUSSEX COUNTY – 6,084 doses administered
- UNION COUNTY – 16,609 doses administered
- WARREN COUNTY – 3,641 doses administered
- OUT-OF-STATE RESIDENTS – 16,458 doses administered
- UNKNOWN COUNTY – 10,551 doses administered
There were 3,677 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases as of Friday night. It was 134 more than the previous night, a spike after two days where hospitalizations had dropped.
It included 651 in critical or intensive care (25 more than the previous night), with 427 on ventilators (11 fewer).
There were 437 COVID-19 patients discharged Friday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Data for Saturday was not immediately available.
There have been 111 in-school coronavirus outbreaks in New Jersey involving 564 students, teachers and staff since the school year began in late August, according to the state dashboard.
Those numbers do not include students or staff believed to have been infected outside school or cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks. Though the numbers keep rising every week, Murphy has said the school outbreak statistics remain below what state officials were expecting when schools reopened for in-person classes.
New Jersey defines school outbreaks as cases where contact tracers determined two or more students or school staff caught or transmitted COVID-19 in the classroom or during academic activities at school.
The number of New Jersey school districts with all-remote learning has increased as students return from winter break, Murphy said Monday.
There are 339 districts that started 2021 remotely — an increase of 18 all-remote districts from Dec. 21. Only 77 school districts are returning with full in-person instruction (down from 82 on Dec. 21), and 348 are returning with a hybrid of in-person or remote instruction (down from 362).
Another 47 districts are using some combination of in-person, hybrid, or all-remote across multiple buildings — one more than Dec. 21.
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.2%), followed by those 50-64 (23.7%), 18-29 (19.3%), 65-79 (11.1%), 80 and older (5.4%), 5-17 (7.5%) and 0-4 (1.6%).
On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with preexisting conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (47.55%), followed by those 65-79 (32.36%), 50-64 (15.63%), 30-49 (4.09%), 18-29 (0.36%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).
At least 7,644 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. That number has been rising at a steeper rate in recent months, with deaths at the state’s nursing homes nearly tripling in December.
There are currently active outbreaks at 426 facilities, resulting in 6,802 active cases among residents and 7,368 among staffers.
As of Sunday morning, there were more than 94.59 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. This week, the world hit a grim benchmark, surpassing 2 million deaths from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 23.7 million, and the most deaths, at more than 395,800.
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