Gov. Phil Murphy Expresses Optimism Holiday Surge of Coronavirus Cases is Over

State health officials expressed optimism with the passing of the incubation period after the New Year’s Eve holiday, key metrics in regards to the coronavirus pandemic are trending in the right direction. 

“We are two weeks out (and) we’re seeing a decent measure of stability across our hospital systems—but we’re not in the clear yet,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing Jan. 19. “While we will continue to hold our breath a little bit, this stability is a good sign, especially considering that we are now outside the two-week window from the holidays.”

Looking long term, the governor stated “I still believe we are in a dramatically better place on Memorial Day than we are now.”

Key Metrics Improving

The metrics state health officials have keyed on to make any decision to open or close the state encompass the number of people in hospitals—including those in intensive care and on ventilators— and the rate of transmission (RT) among others.

“If we can push our hospital numbers down and our RT back below 1, we’re going to find ourselves in an ever-improving condition as our vaccine program continues to roll out,” said Murphy. 

For the past week, new COVID-19 confirmed cases dropped 6% after two consecutive days with less than 4,000 new cases. And New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli recently noted while cases and deaths have increased, those needing hospitalization have not.

Vaccine Push  

As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.11 from 1.12 the day before; the RT was as high as 1.3 between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Officials have continually cited transmission rate as 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.

The first-term Democratic governor reiterated even with improving data, the state still needs the federal government to increase the number of COVID-19 vaccines doses to the state—something he believes will be accomplished with a new administration.   

“All that we’re missing are the vaccine doses we need,” said Murphy. “With the incoming Biden Administration taking office tomorrow, and a new federal focus on pushing vaccines out at a greater pace, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to start ramping up our in-state capabilities.”

Health Emergency Extended

But Murphy reminded New Jerseyans they “still need to be vigilant,” which includes wearing a mask, washing hands repeatedly and keeping socially distance no matter the improvement in health metrics. To the end, the governor extended the public health emergency in New Jersey for another 30 days.

The emergency declaration, which needs to be renewed on a monthly basis, is needed as “given where we are currently, we must remain in a proper footing to continue responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic,” said Murphy.

“As we continue to work expeditiously to distribute vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing,” he said. “Continued access to necessary resources is important and critical as cases have continued to climb in New Jersey and across our nation.”

Daily Data

On Jan. 19,  the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 572,306 with 3,761 total new PCR cases reported. There were 1,039 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 63,396. The total number of individual cases for the state is 635,702. 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 54 new deaths, bringing that total to 18,421. The state listed probable deaths at 2,091, bringing the overall total to 20,512. State officials noted 45 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 406 new confirmed cases and 83 probable cases, Essex 264 new cases and 37 probable cases, Hudson 275 new cases and 41 probable cases, Morris 207 new cases and and 49 probable cases, Passaic 240 new cases and and 55 probable cases, Sussex 77 new cases and 19 probable cases, and Warren 24 cases and 21 probable cases.

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,223, followed by Bergen at 2,144, Hudson with 1,622, Passaic at 1,389, Morris at 825, Sussex at 194 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.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 15, was 10.1%; by region, the rate was 9.7% in the North, 10.4% in the Central region and 10.8% 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. 

Officials reported 3,506 patients were hospitalized with 3,287 cases confirmed and 219 under investigation. By region, there were 1,434 in the North, 1,185 in the Central and 887 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 643 are in intensive care units and 429 on ventilators. While 240 patients were discharged, 347 were admitted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 55,349, followed by Essex at 55,198, Middlesex at 54,393, Hudson at 52,115, Passaic at 44,468, Union at 42,000, Ocean at 40,361, Monmouth at 40,350, Camden at 33,949, Burlington at 25,953, Morris at 24,837, Mercer at 21,956, Gloucester at 17,461, Atlantic at 15,491, Somerset at 15,059, Cumberland at 9,691, Sussex at 6,129, Warren at 4,940, Hunterdon at 4,844, Salem at 3,561, and Cape May at 2,926.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 6,120, followed by Union at 5,928, Ocean at 4,614, Essex at 4,529, Hudson at 4,170, Morris at 3,884, Atlantic at 3,819, Middlesex at 3,700, Cape May at 2,683, Monmouth at 3,675, Passaic at 3,621, Camden at 3,266, Somerset at 3,211, Burlington at 2,764, Gloucester at 2,268, Cumberland at 1,778, Mercer at 1,134, Sussex at 789, Warren at 535, Hunterdon at 477, and Salem 377.

Another 1,275 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 431 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 14,673 of the cases, broken down between 7,054 residents and 7,619 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,204 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 31,588 residents and 20,753 staff, for a total of 52,341 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,668 on Jan. 19. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,605 residents deaths and 142 staff deaths.

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 388,160 as of Jan. 19. Of those who have received the vaccine, 343,957 residents have received their first dose with 43,969 their second; 54% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 46% the Pfizer. 

Demographically, 62% of those vaccinated are women and 38% men. As for ethnicity, 46% are White, 20% unknown, 19% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 3% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 24% are 65 years old or olders, 32% are between the ages of 50-64, 33% are between the ages of 40-49, and 11% are between the ages of 18-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 43,326 doses, Essex 32,223 doses, Hudson 16,232 doses, Morris 28,100 doses, Passaic 17,604 doses, Sussex 6,469 doses, and Warren 3,990 doses. 

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