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New Jersey Begins Vaccinations of Long-term Care Residents, Staffers

The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination shots began in the Garden State Dec. 28 with residents and staffers at long-term care facilities starting to receive their shots.  

New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Commissioner Judith Persichilli said 55,000 doses of the vaccine have been reserved for the federal pharmacy partnership—to be administered by CVS and Walgreens— for skilled nursing facilities. The state expects to provide 112,000 first doses of Pfizer for vaccination of nursing home staff and residents over the next month.

“As of now, we understand that approximately 90 nursing homes are scheduled for vaccination clinics during the shortened holiday week, “ said Persichilli at a press briefing Dec. 23. “That number is expected to increase as additional clinics are scheduled. The pharmacies will visit the facilities several times in order to reach everyone with the first and second doses.”

State’s Plan

The state’s plan after nursing home residents and staff are vaccinated, CVS and Walgreens will begin to vaccinate thousands of residents and staff in other congregate settings, including assisted living facilities, the five state developmental centers, federal housing for seniors and group homes and other long-term residential facilities. 

“All in, New Jersey is allocating a minimum of 500,000 Pfizer doses, that’s the first and second doses, to cover approximately 1,700 facilities included in the Part A and Part B of the federal pharmacy partnership,” said Persichilli. The program is expected to be finished by February 2021.

The partnership calls for the pharmacy providers to provide three on-site clinic visits per site over roughly an 8 to 10-week period. The start of these clinics are arranged directly between CVS and Walgreens and the facilities.

Rite Aid Agreement

Additionally, NJDOH recently entered an agreement with Rite Aid to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to homecare and hospice staff. Rite Aid will provide end-to-end management of the process, including the cold chain storage that’s required, and vaccinations at mobile clinics to vaccinate these healthcare workers. Information about scheduling appointments is being provided through the home health agencies and industry associations. 

As the vaccines are administered, the state will engage in what Persichilli characterized as a “aggressive” public outreach effort to educate the public and build trust in the vaccination process and the importance of getting vaccinated.

PSA Campaign

“Since Sept. 30, I have engaged in over 60 vaccine awareness calls with more than 4,000 stakeholders throughout the state,” said the state’s health commissioner. “The calls share our vaccine rollout plan and our goals and encourage the stakeholders to join with us to build confidence in the vaccine.”

The stakeholders to help carry out the message to get New Jerseyans to have confidence in the vaccine include community and interfaith based groups, pharmacies, higher education, elected officials, disability advocates, healthcare unions and associations, counties and local health departments, medical professional boards, law enforcement and first responders.

The campaign will include TV, radio, digital ads, billboards, social media, and transit ads. As part of their effort to make science-based public health information as widely available as possible, NJDOH’s COVID-19 vaccination page will include fact sheets, FAQs, infographics, links to the state’s vaccination plan and various federal resources.

Daily Data

For the time period between Dec. 24 through Dec. 27, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 461,221 with 16,320 total new cases reported during the time in question and 170 new deaths, bringing that total to 16,685. The state listed probable deaths at 1,945, bringing the overall total to 18,630.

For North Jersey counties during the four day timeframe, Hudson 1,581 had new cases, Bergen 1,439 new cases, Essex 1,272 new cases, Passaic 1,009 new cases, Morris 749 new cases, Sussex 247 new cases and Warren 206 cases.

State officials noted 288 deaths occurred in the last four of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,123, followed by Bergen at 2,020, Hudson with 1,516, Passaic at 1,277, Morris at 770, Sussex at 169 and Warren at 168.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 260, Essex has 242, Hudson has 163, Morris at 175, Passaic at 149, Sussex has 43 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Dec. 23 was 10.2%; by region, the rate was 9.6% in the North, 9.3% in the Central region and 13.8% in the South. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. 

As for the rate of transmission, it remained unchanged over the last three days at 0.95. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 3,469 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,522 in the North, 1,112 in the Central and 835 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 686 are in intensive care units and 487 on ventilators. While 1,724 patients were discharged since Dec. 24, 1,352 were admitted.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 44,891 followed by Bergen at 45,585, Middlesex at 43,137, Hudson at 42,444, Passaic at 39,199, Union at 35,664, Ocean at 30,974, Monmouth at 30,361, Camden at 27,618, Burlington at 20,147, Morris at 19.,518, Mercer at 18,228, Gloucester at 13,531, Somerset at 12,208, Atlantic at 11,688, Cumberland at 7,459, Sussex at 4,211, Warren at 3,763, Hunterdon at 3,596, Salem at 2,581 and Cape May at 2,289.

Another 1,129 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 105 outbreaks involving 459 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with seven new outbreaks involving 31 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 21 confirmed outbreaks with 99 cases, Passaic County has four confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, Warren County has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Sussex County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven cases and Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 428 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 10,676 of the cases, broken down between 5,058 residents and 5,618 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,143 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 29,178 residents and 18,383 staff, for a total of 47,561 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,4668 on Dec. 25. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,212 residents deaths and 125 staff deaths.

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