As the first Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses were delivered in New Jersey March 5, state officials recently noted the increase of variants in the Garden State.
“We are seeing some increases in case rates in the Northeast and in the Central regions of the state,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commission Judith Persichilli on March 3. “This virus is still with us.”
Right now, in the United States, the CDC is tracking three variants—the B-117 UK variant, the B-1.351 South African variant and the P-1 Brazilian variant. Health officials have noted these variants seem to spread more easily, which may lead to more coronavirus cases.
New York Concern
But Persichilli said the New York variant, B-1.526 is of concern, particularly given the number of detections in New York. As of right now, the geographic spread of this variant appears to be limited and it is unknown whether this variant is more contagious or has other concerning features
“I’ve explained in the past that viruses mutate pretty frequently,” said Persichilli. “They constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time.”
State officials have identified a total of 66 cases of the B-117 UK coronavirus variant in 16 counties in New Jersey, including eight in Essex County, four in Morris County, five in Hudson, and two each in Passaic and Warren counties. Additionally, Hudson County has reported two cases of the P-1 Brazilian coronavirus variant.
Additionally, the state reported 34 of the New York strain—most concentrated in the Northeastern part of the state.
Slowing Down Reopening
“While we are concerned about the increase in variant strains, the public health prevention measures that we’ve all been using—physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, getting vaccinated when it’s your turn—are important tools to prevent the spread of this virus,” said Persichilli.
Gov. Phil Murphy acknowledged that the variants have slowed down plans to further reopen the state.
“We would like to be doing more on restaurants right now,” said Murphy. “But with these variants…and the transmissibility that looks like it’s ticked up a bit, we just don’t think that’s the responsible step to take.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 2,333,723 as of March 5. Of those who have received the vaccine, 1,544,835 residents have received their first dose with 788,782 their second; 53% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 47% the Pfizer.
Demographically, 58% of those vaccinated are women and 42% men. As for ethnicity, 57% are White, 14% unknown, 13% other, 7% Asian, 6% Hispanic and 4% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 42% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 23% are between the ages of 40-49, and 8% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 266,063 doses, Essex 189,049 doses, Morris 173,570 doses, Hudson 110,400 doses, Passaic 105,304 doses, Sussex 36,392 doses, and Warren 23,697 doses.
As of March 5, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 715,889 with 3,347 total new PCR cases reported. There were 437 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 90,481. The total number of individual cases for the state is 806,730. Gov. Murphy previously 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 35 new deaths, bringing that total to 21,124. The state listed probable deaths at 2,397, bringing the overall total to 23,521. State officials noted 26 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on March 5, Bergen had a total of 442 new confirmed cases and 56 probable cases, Essex 318 new cases and 16 probable cases, Hudson 282 new cases and 18 probable cases, Morris 221 new cases and 24 probable cases, Passaic 200 new cases and 23 probable cases, Sussex 38 new cases and 17 probable cases, and Warren 40 cases and two probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,425, followed by Bergen at 2,348, Hudson with 1,838, Passaic at 1,528, Morris at 905, Sussex at 210 and Warren County at 198.
In regards to probable deaths reported March 3, Bergen has 284, Essex has 275, Morris has 224, Hudson has 185, Passaic has 179, Sussex has 64 and Warren has 22.
As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 1.04 from 1.01 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Feb. 28, was 10.9%; by region, the rate was 11.4% in the North, 11.6% in the Central region and 8.3% in the South.
Officials reported 1,881 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 945 in the North, 571 in the Central and 365 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 389 are in intensive care units and 223 on ventilators. A total of 249 patients were discharged, while 247 were admitted.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospilizations, intensive care units, ventilators 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.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 70,601, followed by Middlesex at 68,871, Essex at 68,739, Hudson at 64,908, Ocean at 53,133, Passaic at 52,959, Monmouth at 52,895, Union at 49,881, Camden at 39,944, Morris at 32,936, Burlington at 31,373, Mercer at 26,560, Gloucester at 21,369, Atlantic at 20,067, Somerset at 19,006, Cumberland at 12,321, Sussex at 8,118, Warren at 6,515, Hunterdon at 6,480, Salem at 4,300, and Cape May at 3,760.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 9,195, followed by Union at 7,952, Ocean at 6,954, Essex at 6,450, Hudson at 5,883, Monmouth at 5,620, Morris at 5,593, Atlantic at 5,204, Middlesex at 5,173, Passaic at 4,970, Camden at 4,825, Burlington at 4,602, Somerset at 4,255, Cape May at 3,626, Gloucester at 3,144, Cumberland at 2,156, Mercer at 1,686, Sussex at 1,239, Warren at 739, Hunterdon at 637, and Salem 461.
Another 1,093 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 160 outbreaks involving 765 cases, with eight new outbreaks accounting for 28 cases reported in the weekly update on March 3.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 37 confirmed outbreaks with 155 cases, Passaic County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren has eight confirmed outbreaks with 20 cases, Morris County has four confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Hudson County has three confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 296 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 11,943 of the cases, broken down between 5,874 residents and 6,069 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,270 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,301 residents and 21,116 staff, for a total of 53,417 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,924 on March 5. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,827 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.