New Jersey officials said over 650,000 New Jerseyans have signed up online for the COVID-19 vaccine in the first week the state’s website was up and running.
“The number alone gives us great optimism as we continue to roll out our robust statewide vaccine program,” said Gov. Phil Murphy recently at a press briefing “We know the process wasn’t perfect for anyone who tried to preregister….but we’re incredibly encouraged by the tremendous interest in volume of incoming pre registrations.”
The rollout of the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) was not without its issues as the governor alluded to. Because of the interest in receiving the vaccine, the system did experience capacity on challenges on the first day, causing the website to not be accessible. The state’s IT teams worked with Microsoft to increase server to capacity to meet the demand.
What the NJVSS gives is the ability of Garden State residents to preregister for the vaccine. New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli encouraged healthcare workers in category 1A who have yet to be vaccinated to go online and register.
“At this time, we are asking for the public’s patience throughout the registration and vaccination distribution process,” said Persichilli. “We are recommending that the public wait until there is an announcement in coming weeks about when you will be able to schedule an appointment to be vaccinated.”
The commissioner added, “This is a massive undertaking. It is clear that people are registering in very large numbers and we are very pleased about that.”
State officials said when registering, there will be a drop down feature to help identify where residents want to go, and sign up for an appointment. For those signing up but are classified as being in the later phases, residents will receive an email or text letting them know when they can schedule an appointment.
“I just want people to get vaccinated,” said Persichilli. “We don’t want to have any leftover doses at the end of the day. So if you have a tray of 1,000 doses, you want to give 1,000 doses.”
Both Murphy and Persichilli believe the availability of the vaccine will increase, with the opening of megasites, such as the Morris County Regional Vaccination Center which they visited on Jan. 8 when it opened for operations, helping to increase the rollout of the vaccine.
Opening of Megasites
“These megasites will be able to handle a large volume of individuals as we continue to move through eligible phases of vaccination toward the general public,” said Persichilli. “The sites are part of a growing network of community-based sites that will help ensure fair and equitable access and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.”
When questioned about the reported low totals of those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the commissioner believes the number is higher than what is being reported.
“In discussions with the hospitals, we do believe there’s some reporting lag,” said Persichilli. “With CVS and Walgreens, our system shows about 5,700 to 6,000 administrations and their systems show over 15,000. We’re working out some of those things.”
State officials said two additional issues slowing down the number of vaccines administered are the time of the year and trust.
“Rolling out a massive vaccine program during the holidays did delay people from signing up, so healthcare workers are lining up right now, where they were delaying till after the holidays,” said Persichilli. “Additionally, I think there is still some vaccine hesitancy generally. We’re working to clear up (myths) …we really do need to work to educate a little bit more from what (people are) hearing on the internet.”
On Jan. 8, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 516,608 with 5,791 total new PCR cases reported. There were 1,376 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 72,123. The total number of individual cases for the state is 588,731. Gov. Murphy noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 112 new deaths, bringing that total to 17,697 The state listed probable deaths at 2,059, bringing the overall total to 19,756. State officials noted 66 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 483 new confirmed cases and 203 probable cases, Essex 454 new cases and 98 probable cases, Hudson 431 new cases and 78 probable cases, Morris 263 new cases and and 53 probable cases, Passaic 276 new cases and and 60 probable cases, Sussex 99 new cases and 18 probable cases, and Warren 65 cases and 15 probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,170, followed by Bergen at 2,102, Hudson with 1,576, Passaic at 1,346, Morris at 803, Sussex at 179 and Warren County at 172.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 266, Essex has 255, Morris at 187, Hudson has 169, Passaic at 159, Sussex has 46 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 3, was 15.5%; by region, the rate was 14.9% in the North, 16.6% in the Central region and 14.8% 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 increased to 1.02 from 0.99 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 3,669 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,540 in the North, 1,203 in the Central and 926 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 655 are in intensive care units and 439 on ventilators. While 459 patients were discharged, 405 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 50,468, followed by Essex at 50,328, Middlesex at 48,776, Hudson at 47,326, Passaic at 41,857, Union at 38,485, Ocean at 35,719, Monmouth at 35,426, Camden at 31,030, Burlington at 23,325, Morris at 21,980, Mercer at 20,067, Gloucester at 15,613, Somerset at 13,551, Atlantic at 13,458, Cumberland at 8,640, Sussex at 5,081, Warren at 4,326, Hunterdon at 4,152, Salem at 3,125, and Cape May at 2,607.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 6,954, followed by Union at 6,690, Ocean at 6,653, Essex at 5,615, Hudson at 5,166, Monmouth at 4,753, Morris at 4,409, Middlesex at 4,330, Passaic at 4,067, Atlantic at 3,968, Somerset at 3,436, Camden at 3,137, Burlington at 2,711, Cape May at 2,653, Gloucester at 2,288, Cumberland at 1,750, Mercer at 1,204, Sussex at 849, Warren at 528, Hunterdon at 524, and Salem 382.
Another 1,268 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 111 outbreaks involving 557 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with six new outbreaks involving 11 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 102 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has five confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, Warren has 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 13,267 of the cases, broken down between 6,441 residents and 6,826 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,182 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 30,759 residents and 19,796 staff, for a total of 50,555 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,583 on Jan. 8. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,454 residents deaths and 125 staff deaths.