As New Jersey expanded those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the places to receive them, the issue of supply is a major concern for Gov. Phil Murphy.
“We just need the supply from the feds to meet that demand, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that we are ready but they are not,” said Murphy at a press briefing Jan. 15. “We saw some stories…that there was a little bit of a I don’t know what you’d call it, hide the pea, we were all going left and it turns out we should have been going right. But it looks like the feds have already blown through the vaunted Strategic Reserve.”
The issue of supply came the same week the state expanded the list of those eligible to receive the vaccine to include those aged 65 and older and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus. Those newly eligible join healthcare workers and long-term healthcare residents in Phase 1A and law enforcement and fire professionals in Phase 1B in being eligible to be administered the vaccine.
A Little More Patience
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted that the state is currently receiving a little over 100,000 doses a week, so only that number of individuals can be vaccinated each week, while there are over 4 million New Jerseyans who are now eligible.
“With the expansion of eligibility into more categories, there are now many more people who can get vaccinated, but the vaccine supply is still extremely limited, and will be for some time,” said Persichilli. “Understanding everyone’s desire to get vaccinated as soon as possible, we understand that people are anxious. We urge everyone to be patient.”
The governor pushed back on the criticism for the inclusion of smokers to the eligibility list, including Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-25) who questioned the wisdom of teachers and daycare workers being prioritized behind smokers to receive the vaccine.
“What we need to end this divisive and unproductive debate, and (to) solve all of the above (problems) is we need a bigger supply of vaccines out of the feds, period,” Murphy stated. “We get that supply, this debate goes away immediately. And for that, we need a federal administration that will unleash the process to meet demand.”
Murphy said the expansion was following the science and the data that “overwhelmingly” suggest who are the most vulnerable to this virus, especially seniors and those having chronic health realities.
“We will continue on that path. I promise you… our blessed heroic educators …they’re on deck,” he said. “We can’t wait to get to the broader population. In the meantime, if you are an educator, an essential worker, and you’re either 65 and up or you’ve got some sort of a chronic condition, please get vaccinated. Get in there. The faster we can deliver those shots into the arms, the better we will be.”
More Help Coming
Murphy gave a vote of support for the pandemic relief measures outlined by President-Elect Joe Biden Jan. 14, saying it increases his confidence that more supplies would be received sooner rather than later.
“We should not hold back,” he proclaimed. “We should be throwing everything we have at ending this pandemic, and vaccines are just the latest and perhaps greatest tool at our disposal.”
The first-term Democratic governor said based on the evidence from incoming Biden Administration members, the supply-demand at the federal level will be corrected to meet the state’s objective of getting 4.7 million adults vaccinated over the next six months.
“I have no doubt about that. The problem I think we have to all accept, and this is why I use the word patience, that its not going to be next week,” said Murphy. “I still am comfortable with the timeframe we put out there, but I think it’s going to be more middle to backload than we want, that we feel comfortable with, that we had expected.”
On Jan. 17, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 565,097 with 9,932 total new PCR cases reported over a two-day period. There were 1,803 probable cases Jan. 16 and 17, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 62,124. The total number of individual cases for the state is 627,112. 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 122 new deaths over the weeknd, bringing that total to 18,348. The state listed probable deaths at 2,091, bringing the overall total to 20,439.
For North Jersey counties on Jan. 17, Bergen had a total of 440 new confirmed cases and 74 probable cases, Essex 416 new cases and 52 probable cases, Hudson 434 new cases and 46 probable cases, Morris 257 new cases and and 56 probable cases, Passaic 219 new cases and and 25 probable cases, Sussex 61 new cases and 10 probable cases, and Warren 46 cases and two probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,221, followed by Bergen at 2,142, Hudson with 1,615, Passaic at 1,385, Morris at 826, Sussex at 191 and Warren County at 175.
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. 13, was 10.1%; by region, the rate was 9.7% in the North, 10.2% in the Central region and 11.4% 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 1.12 from 1.11 from Jan. 15 to Jan. 17. 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 3,543 patients were hospitalized on Jan, 15 with 3,313 cases confirmed and 230 under investigation. By region, there were 1,465 in the North, 1,146 in the Central and 932 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 626 are in intensive care units and 438 on ventilators. While 452 patients were discharged, 427 were admitted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 54,678, followed by Essex at 54,637, Middlesex at 53,778, Hudson at 51,551, Passaic at 44,107, Union at 41,514, Ocean at 39,661, Monmouth at 39,634, Camden at 33,601, Burlington at 25,628, Morris at 24,457, Mercer at 21,704, Gloucester at 17,209, Atlantic at 15,192, Somerset at 14,878, Cumberland at 9,529, Sussex at 5,986, Warren at 4,865, Hunterdon at 4,776, Salem at 3,511, and Cape May at 2,880.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 6,026, followed by Union at 5,849, Ocean at 4,502, Essex at 4,490, Hudson at 4,105, Morris at 3,802, Atlantic at 3,751, Middlesex at 3,622, Passaic at 3,551, Monmouth at 3,539, Somerset at 3,174, Camden at 3,176, Cape May at 2,682, Burlington at 2,660, Gloucester at 2,207, Cumberland at 1,747, Mercer at 1,125, Sussex at 767, Warren at 511, Hunterdon at 466, and Salem 371.
Another 1,321 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 426 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 14,170 of the cases, broken down between 6,802 residents and 7,368 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,196 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 31,298 residents and 20,493 staff, for a total of 51,791 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,644 on Jan. 15. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,551 residents deaths and 140 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 348,414 as of Jan. 17. Of those who have received the vaccine, 308,874 residents have received their first dose with 39,330 their second; 55% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 45% the Pfizer. Demographically, 62% of those vaccinated are women and 38% men. As for ethnicity, 46% are White, 21% unknown, 18% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 4% Black.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 39,504 doses, Essex 27,451 doses, Hudson 15,064 doses, Morris 18,251 doses, Passaic 15,882 doses, Sussex 6,084 doses, and Warren 3,641 doses.