New Jersey on Monday reported another 3,511 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 23 additional deaths as vaccination locations reported a huge surge in appointments with the recent eligibility expansion.
The state of 9 million residents has now lost 20,458 residents in the COVID-19 pandemic — 18,367 confirmed deaths and 2,091 deaths considered probable, according to state data.
The statewide rate of transmission was 1.12 for a third straight day. A transmission rate over 1 indicates the outbreak is expanding and the seven-day rolling average was 5,148.
New Jersey recently expanded vaccine eligibility to those 65 and over, residents with certain health conditions and smokers, creating a backlog for appointments when vaccines promised by the federal government did not materialize.
Four of the six coronavirus vaccine mega-sites have opened throughout New Jersey to serve as vaccination hubs.
The four locations open are the Moorestown Mall in Burlington County, Rowan College of South Jersey in Gloucester County, the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Middlesex County and Rockaway Townsquare in Morris County. Two additional sites will open later in East Rutherford and Atlantic City.
Each site is currently offering the shot only to priority groups, including health care professionals, EMS teams, police officers and firefighters, people age 65 and over, those with chronic health conditions and smokers. State officials have said each location will eventually have the capacity to vaccinate thousands of people per week, but doesn’t currently because the federal government is not providing enough doses.
Many vaccine sites throughout the state do not show appointment availability due to supply not meeting demand. State officials have said more appointments will become available as New Jersey receives additional vaccines.
If you are eligible, you can sign up directly with vaccine providers, who can be found on a list provided by the state Department of Health, said Donna Leusner, a health department spokeswoman.
At least 348,414 doses of the vaccine had been administered in New Jersey 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.
New Jersey has faced criticism for having a slower rollout than dozens of other states as it continues to deal with a second wave of the pandemic, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state has been doling out doses in phases. And even though officials last week greatly expanded vaccine eligibility, demand remains greater than supply, and residents are scrambling for scarce appointments. More than 4 million New Jersey residents are now eligible.
Officials stress that the state is depending on the federal government for its supply and is receiving only 100,000 doses a week, though New Jersey has the capacity for 470,000 a day.
Murphy on Saturday said the federal government has not provided additional doses that were promised.
There were 3,432 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Sunday night, 313 fewer than the previous night.
They included 632 in critical or intensive care (55 fewer than the previous night), with 426 on ventilators (40 fewer).
There were 305 COVID-19 patients discharged Sunday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The governor has said any hospitalizations over 5,000 patients would likely trigger new rounds of restrictions.
However, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Monday that officials aren’t concerned at the moment about an upcoming surge in the number of people needing to be hospitalized.
“The interesting thing is: Our cases are increasing and our mortalities are increasing, but our hospitalizations are not,” Persichilli told reporters before a public event in Old Bridge.
“Hospitalizations are staying pretty stable,” she said. ”I think it’s still affecting older individuals. Almost 60% of our deaths are older individuals, so it may be that it’s more transmissible, more asymptomatic. It’s over 50% now are asymptomatic transmissions. Asymptomatic transmitters are perhaps affecting older, vulnerable adults, and that’s who is ending up in the hospitals, and the mortality is significant.”
There have been 111 in-school coronavirus outbreaks in New Jersey involving 557 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%), 5-17 (7.5%), 80 and older (5.4%), 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%), followed by those 65-79 (33%), 50-64 (15.6%), 30-49 (4%), 18-29 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%), and 0-4 (0%).
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 again 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 Monday morning, there were more than 95.17 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 2 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 23.95 million, and the most deaths, at more than 397,600.
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