As frontline healthcare workers begin to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine shot, state officials gave an update on the vaccination program in New Jersey.
As of Jan. 4, a total of 101,417 of those as defined by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) as being in the Phase 1A population have received their first dose, which include frontline medical workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Those include paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients as well as infectious materials.
There are currently more than 200 sites for healthcare workers to get vaccinated, with two mega sites slated to open Jan. 9, one in Morris County and one in Gloucester County. Each of those sites will have the capability of delivering 1,000 doses a week for the 1A population.
The pharmacy partnership for long-term care programs has 69 vaccination clinics currently up and running. The clinics have vaccinated 4,285 long-term care residents and more than 3,800 staffers. Officials stated 193 facilities vaccination clinics are scheduled to open this week, and another 615 through the end of January.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli believes the dose gap from approximately 400,000 the state has received and those still to be administered center around two issues.
“I know that the psych hospitals are behind in their reporting…getting (their results) into the system has proven to be logistically part of the problem,” said Persichilli. “We did get anecdotal information that people did not want to get vaccinated during the holidays in case they didn’t feel well. So hopefully, by the end of this week, we’ll have much better reporting.”
Gov. Phil Murphy defended the 1A protocols of frontline healthcare workers getting the vaccine first as compared to other states that are putting older people ahead of younger, healthier healthcare workers.
“We see enormous value to having our healthcare workers…getting their second dose,” said Murphy. “We can’t let our hospital systems get (overrun here). If you look at our capacities, we feel really good about every capacity except healthcare workers. And the vaccine…will allow us to create that capacity, if you will, that we have not been able to have.”
NJDOH’s Professional Advisory Committee was set to meet to discuss the 1B categorization and the prioritization. As far as the timing of when the state moves to 1B individuals, the state is balancing the number of healthcare workers remaining to be vaccinated versus vaccine availability.
“Those numbers don’t match yet,” stated Persichilli. “When they get closer, we’ll open up 1B, probably by segments, and start moving in the most essential workers with, again, health and safety being at the front of the list.”
Persichilli noted the state is not stockpiling the vaccines at one central site, rather the federal government is sending the doses directly to vaccine sites.
On Jan. 5, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 499,636 with 5,400 total new PCR cases reported. There were 1,096 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 51,783. The total number of individual COVID-19 cases for the state is 551,419.
For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 459 new confirmed cases and 197 probable cases, Essex 364 new cases and 69 probable cases, Hudson 469 new cases and 64 probable cases, Morris 251 new cases and and 49 probable cases, Passaic 309 new cases and and 51 probable cases, Sussex 60 new cases and 18 probable cases, and Warren 62 cases and eight probable cases.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 138 new deaths, bringing that total to 17,361 The state listed probable deaths at 2,021, bringing the overall total to 19,382. State officials noted 59 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,160, followed by Bergen at 2,082, Hudson with 1,553, Passaic at 1,317, Morris at 791, Sussex at 176 and Warren County at 170.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 263, Essex has 250, Hudson has 168, Morris at 178, Passaic at 157, Sussex has 43 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Dec. 31, 2020, was 11.2%; by region, the rate was 9.7% in the North, 11.7% in the Central region and 14.5% 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 increased to 0.94 from 0.92 the day before. 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 3,702 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,529 in the North, 1,237 in the Central and 936 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 679 are in intensive care units and 481 on ventilators. While 271 patients were discharged, 365 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 48,953, followed by Essex at 48,879, Middlesex at 47,095, Hudson at 45,852, Passaic at 41,023, Union at 37,635, Ocean at 34,379, Monmouth at 33,778, Camden at 29,924, Burlington at 22,484, Morris at 21,255, Mercer at 19,519, Gloucester at 14,918, Somerset at 13,189, Atlantic at 12,921, Cumberland at 8,280, Sussex at 4,825, Warren at 4,163, Hunterdon at 3,981, Salem at 2,963, and Cape May at 2,502.
In regards to probable cases, Union had the most at 5,023, followed by Bergen at 4,868, Essex at 3,854, Ocean at 3,591, Hudson at 3,488, Morris at 3,330, Atlantic at 3,062, Passaic at 3,047, Middlesex at 3,033, Monmouth at 2,856, Somerset at 2,668, Camden at 2,636, Cape May at 2,263, Burlington at 2,092, Gloucester at 1,859, Cumberland at 1,453, Mercer at 944, Sussex at 566, Warren at 395, Hunterdon at 376, and Salem 331.
Another 1,118 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 546 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with three new outbreaks involving 87 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 21 confirmed outbreaks with 99 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Warren and Sussex counties both having four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 83 cases. Morris is the only county in the state without an outbreak.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 430 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 12,551 of the cases, broken down between 6,027 residents and 6,524 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,170 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 30,303 residents and 19,441 staff, for a total of 49,744 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,550 on Jan. 5. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,374 residents deaths and 125 staff deaths.