New Jersey on Friday reported another eight confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 975 positive tests as CDC officials insist more needs to be done to combat coronavirus during a visit to the state.
The state’s seven-day average for confirmed cases was 782 on Friday, up 21% from a week ago, but still down 27% from a month ago as the stealth omicron subvariant continues to spread in New Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday that the rise in cases in recent days after two months of steady declines is expected.
“Europe, cases are up. And that’s usually a precursor to what we see here,” Murphy said on News 12. “But I do not see another awful wave where we’re going to have to shut the place down. I just don’t see that.”
He reiterated his urging for people to get vaccinated and boosted.
“We know it works. We know you’re protected,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t mean you won’t get it, but it sure as heck means your odds of going to a hospital or getting seriously ill go down dramatically.”
There were 343 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across 69 of the state’s 71 hospitals as of Thursday night. Two hospitals did not report data. Hospitalizations hit a recent peak at 6,089 on Jan. 10 during the omicron wave.
There were at least 69 people discharged in that same 24-hour period, according to state data. Of those hospitalized, 48 were in intensive care and 32 were on ventilators.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visited Princeton University on Thursday and said more work remains to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We still have 900 deaths a day in this country,” Walensky told NJ Advance Media at Princeton’s Lewis Thomas Laboratory. “And so I still think we have a lot of work to do to make sure that we’re in a place that is safe for this country and for the American people.”
The statewide transmission rate was 0.96 on Friday. Any rate below 1 indicates the outbreak is on the decline with each new case leading to fewer than one additional case. When the rate is 1, that means the outbreak has leveled off at its current numbers.
The statewide daily positivity rate for tests conducted Sunday, the most recent day available, was 4.03%.
The state on Friday also reported 261 probable cases from rapid antigen testing at medical sites.
All of New Jersey’s 21 counties are currently listed as having “low” rates of transmission, according to recently updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy people in the low and medium categories are no longer recommended to wear masks.
BA.2, the new strain of COVID-19, has been spreading in New Jersey for weeks, though at much lower rates than the omicron surge in December and January. Officials have said the omicron “stealth” subvariant appears to spread more easily, but generally not cause more severe illness.
For the week ending March 5, BA.2 accounted for 30.3% of the positive tests sampled (up from 21.2% the previous week), while the omicron variant accounted for nearly 69.7% of positive tests sampled.
New Jersey has reported 1,893,703 total confirmed cases out of more than 17.4 million PCR tests conducted in the more than two years since the state reported its first known case March 4, 2020.
The Garden State has also recorded 299,767 positive antigen or rapid tests, which are considered probable cases. And there are numerous cases that have likely never been counted, including at-home positive tests that are not included in the state’s numbers.
The state of 9.2 million residents has reported 33,203 COVID-19 deaths in that time — 30,215 confirmed fatalities and 2,988 probable.
New Jersey has the fifth-most coronavirus deaths per capita in the U.S. — behind Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama and Oklahoma — as of the latest data reported Monday.
More than 6.8 million of the 8.46 million eligible people who live, work or study in New Jersey have received the initial course of vaccinations and more than 7.7 million have received a first dose since vaccinations began here on Dec. 15, 2020.
While the number of N.J. residents fully vaccinated has reached over 6.8 million, the latest numbers also come on the heels of a major study that reveals even a mild case of COVID-19 can significantly affect the brain.
More than 3.2 million people in the state eligible for boosters have received one.
SCHOOL AND LONGTERM CARE NUMBERS
For the week ending March 6, with around 61% of schools reporting data, another 1,175 COVID-19 cases were reported among staff (253) and students (922) across New Jersey’s schools.
Since the start of the academic year, there have been 101,496 students and 28,417 school staff members who have contracted COVID-19 in New Jersey, though the state has never had more than two-thirds of the school districts reporting data in any week.
The state provides total student and staff cases separately from those deemed to be in-school transmission, which is narrowly defined as three or more cases linked through contact tracing.
New Jersey has reported 524 total in-school outbreaks, including 3,594 cases among students and staff. That includes 11 new outbreaks in the last week.
At least 9,377 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data.
There were active outbreaks at 172 facilities, resulting in 4,410 current cases among residents and 5,023 cases among staff as of the latest data.
As of Tuesday, there have been over 477 million COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 6 million people having died due to the virus.
The U.S. has reported the most cases (more than 79.8 million) and deaths (more than 975,862) of any nation.
There have been more than 10.8 billion vaccine doses administered globally.
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