As the number of COVID-19 cases hit new daily highs three times over the last week, including nearly 7,000 in one day, state officials are gearing for the coming rise in hospitalizations.
“We are preparing for the predictive surge that may start as early as next week into the middle of February,” said New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Commissioner Judith Persichilli at a press briefing Jan. 13.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Persichilli are both concerned the number of hospitalizations could overrun the state’s hospitals system. Murphy has noted that the state’s hospitals teetered on the abyss of being overwhelmed in the Spring, with hospitals hitting their peaks on April 14, 2020 with 8,270 hospitalizations.
At the end of 2020, the state modeled four scenarios, with the worst case scenario from the governor’s Office of Innovation appearing to be the one that will come to fruition. The office predicted highs for new cases would be on Feb. 1 at 9,932 and total hospitalizations on Feb. 5 being 8,689. Of those hospitalized, 1,632 would be an ICU patient and 1,037 on ventilators.
NJDOH peak of new cases in this scenario would have reached 12,595 on Jan. 14 and hospitalization a day earlier with 8,747 patients.
In the moderate cases scenario, NJDOH model called for a peak of new cases arriving on Jan. 13 with 9,120 and hospitalizations 6,333 day later, while the Office of Innovation predicted new cases reaching 7,180 on Dec. 25, 2020, with total hospitalizations rising to 5,752 as of Jan. 31.
Now, Persichilli said “if our predictive modelling is accurate, we could see a moderate scenario for 4,500 and high scenario, over 6,000, that would be tough.”
Murphy said if the state were to hit 5,000 hospitalization in one day, that would “ring a lot of alarm bells. At that point we’re going to have pull some levers that we’re not pulling at the moment.”
The other concern state officials have is staffing levels. In the Spring 2020, the state was able to call in nurses and doctors from across the nation to help with staffing at hospitals. With the pandemic now raging across the country, that option is not available.
“We will have (personal protection equipment), we will have ventilators. What we will not have is the appropriate level of staffing that people are familiar with, conventional staffing,” said Persichilli. “So we will be working with our hospitals if they need to progress to what we call contingency staffing, and hopefully never crisis staffing.”
Murphy said that the next month is a key moment in the state battle against the coronavirus.
“We’ve got to stay strong over the next number of weeks in particular,” said the governor. “I think this month into early February is make-or-break time based on our modelling and based on everything we know. So we need to keep strong.”
On Jan. 14, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 549,840 with 5,967 total new PCR cases reported. There were 1,435 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 59,881. The total number of individual cases for the state is 609,721. 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 94 new deaths, bringing that total to 18,162. The state listed probable deaths at 2,091, bringing the overall total to 20,253. State officials noted 58 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 573 new confirmed cases and 236 probable cases, Essex 591 new cases and 101 probable cases, Hudson 519 new cases and 122 probable cases, Morris 284 new cases and and 69 probable cases, Passaic 301 new cases and and 73 probable cases, Sussex 78 new cases and 30 probable cases, and Warren 59 cases and 14 probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,202, followed by Bergen at 2,130, Hudson with 1,599, Passaic at 1,365, Morris at 817, Sussex at 183 and Warren County at 173.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 267, Essex has 257, Hudson has 170, Morris at 194, Passaic at 159, Sussex has 51 and Warren has 14.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 9, was 13.5%; by region, the rate was 13.2% in the North, 14.4% in the Central region and 13.1% 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 from the day before at 1.10. 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 3,638 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,528 in the North, 1,259 in the Central and 951 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 644 are in intensive care units and 456 on ventilators. While 495 patients were discharged, 407 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 53,264, followed by Essex at 53,161, Middlesex at 52,202, Hudson at 50,262, Passaic at 43,423, Union at 40,694, Ocean at 38,450, Monmouth at 38,325, Camden at 32,833, Burlington at 24,973, Morris at 23,620, Mercer at 21,161, Gloucester at 16,755, Atlantic at 14,583, Somerset at 14,456, Cumberland at 9,270, Sussex at 5,677, Warren at 4,704, Hunterdon at 4,572, Salem at 3,410, and Cape May at 2,790.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 5,838, followed by Union at 5,658, Essex at 4,350, Ocean at 4,295, Hudson at 3,994, Morris at 3,682, Atlantic at 3,565, Middlesex at 3,508, Passaic at 3,465, Monmouth at 3,411, Somerset at 3,059, Camden at 3,034, Cape May at 2,780, Burlington at 2,491, Gloucester at 2,127, Cumberland at 1,682, Mercer at 1,095, Sussex at 722, Warren at 489, Hunterdon at 439, and Salem 364.
Another 1,350 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 564 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with no outbreaks 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 428 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 13,989 of the cases, broken down between 6,712 residents and 7,277 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,193 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 31,051 residents and 20,258 staff, for a total of 51,526 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,640 on Jan. 13. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,536 residents deaths and 127 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 287,840 as of Jan. 14. Of those who have received the vaccine, 253,775 residents have received their first dose with 23,898 their second; 53% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 47% the Pfizer. Demographically, 63% of those vaccinated are women and 37% men. As for ethnicity, 46% are White, 20% unknown, 19% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 4% Black.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 31,665 doses, Essex 24,983 doses, Hudson 11,893 doses, Morris 20,950 doses, Passaic 13,269 doses, Sussex 4,700 doses, and Warren 2,949 doses.