While Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced vaccination programs would be opened to all New Jersey residents over the age of 16 on April 19, worrying results from the state’s wastewater testing program indicate the pandemic is not yet over.
Ongoing testing as part of Bergen County’s Wastewater Testing Program indicates concentration levels of COVID-19 are similar to samples taken in the late Fall and early Winter of 2020.
The results are concerning as the samples predated a spike in cases. Bergen County reported 7,210 new positive cases for the month. More generally, the state’s northeast region (which includes Bergen, Essex, and Hudson Counties) scored a daily positivity rate of 10.8% as of March 27, the second highest in the state.
“While vaccination efforts continue and more residents are receiving their doses each and every day, we are not at herd immunity and the virus still poses a very real threat. This is not the time to let our guard down,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.
Bergen County began the testing program in 2020 in partnership with Columbia University and engineering firm AECOM. The testing programs looks for COVID-19 RNA in wastewater, finding it a useful precursor for reported infections.
Over 1.9 million New Jerseyans were fully vaccinated as of April 8, as 40% of the way towards the state’s goal of fully vaccinating 4.7 million individuals by June 30. In total, just over five million doses had been administered.
However, New Jersey is leading the nation in new coronavirus infections, highlighting the need to remain vigilant in the fight against the virus, according to local officials.
“The fact that community spread is trending towards the levels we saw post-Thanksgiving last year is troubling,” said Hansel Asmar, Bergen County Department of Health Services Director.
“We need to double down on our collective efforts to reduce the spread. If the virus continues to mutate at the current pace, new-vaccine resistance variants could very well prolong this fight even further,” she continued.
New Jersey Department of Health modeling indicated a spike could be expected in late Spring or early Summer in the Garden State.
The modeling included best, moderate, and worst case scenarios, finding new infections would hover between 5,000 and 8,000 daily for most of April. While the numbers were lower than those projected in 2020 during the same period, they represented a serious increase compared to earlier in 2021.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 5,025,957 as of April 8. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,201,403 residents have received their first dose with 1,962,866 receiving their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose; 51% have been administered the Pfizer vaccine, 46% the Moderna vaccine and 3% the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Demographically, 56% of those vaccinated are women and 44% men. As for ethnicity, 58% are White, 11% other, 9% unknown, 9% Hispanic, 8% Asian and 5% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 38% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 25% are between the ages of 40-49, and 9% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 564,247 doses, Essex 384,481 doses, Morris 354,878 doses, Hudson 285,791 doses, Passaic 228,091 doses, Sussex 79,547 doses, and Warren 51,396 doses.
As of April 8, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 827,795 with 3,758 total new PCR cases reported. There were 947 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 114,516. The total number of individual cases for the state is 942,311. 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 22,210. The state listed probable deaths at 2,573, bringing the overall total to 24,783. State officials noted 18 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on April 8, Bergen had a total of 428 new confirmed cases and 108 probable cases, Essex 437 new cases and 78 probable cases, Hudson 336 new cases and 88 probable cases, Morris 177 new cases and 56 probable cases, Passaic 226 new cases and 59 probable cases, Sussex 82 new cases and 34 probable cases, and Warren 33 cases and seven new probable cases.
There are a total of 827 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 806 cases of the U.K. variant, 10 cases of the California variants, nine cases of the Brazilian P1 variant, and two cases of the South African variant.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,527, followed by Bergen at 2,461, Hudson with 1,942, Passaic at 1,618, Morris at 945, Sussex at 221 and Warren County at 204.
In regards to probable deaths reported April 7, Bergen has 294, Essex has 291, Morris has 241, Hudson has 203, Passaic has 194, Sussex has 66 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.02 from 1.04 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of April 3, was 12.4%; by region, the rate was 13.1% in the North, 12.2% in the Central region and 10.8% in the South.
Officials reported 2,378 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,229 in the North, 700 in the Central and 449 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 447 are in intensive care units and 264 on ventilators. A total of 316 patients were discharged, while 319 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 83,146, followed by Essex at 80,273, Middlesex at 79,826, Hudson at 74,427, Monmouth at 63,071, Ocean at 61,789, Passaic at 60,139, Union at 56,415, Camden at 44,575, Morris at 39,470, Burlington at 35,482, Mercer at 29,650, Gloucester at 24,185, Atlantic at 23,037, Somerset at 22,480, Cumberland at 13,447, Sussex at 10,462, Hunterdon at 8,019, Warren at 7,929, Salem at 4,890, and Cape May at 4,252.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 11,921, followed by Union at 9,895, Ocean at 9,152, Essex at 8,401, Hudson at 8,167, Monmouth at 7,347, Morris at 7,224, Middlesex at 6,645, Passaic at 6,526, Atlantic at 6,149, Burlington at 5,795, Camden at 5,778, Somerset at 5,254, Cape May at 4,237, Gloucester at 3,600, Cumberland at 2,188, Mercer at 2,088, Sussex at 1,899, Warren at 864, Hunterdon at 778 and Salem 500.
Another 831 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 240 outbreaks involving 1,070 cases have been reported, with 35 new outbreaks accounting for 123 cases in the weekly update on April 6.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 51 confirmed outbreaks with 196 cases, Passaic County has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 50 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Sussex has 11 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has four confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 225 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 7,496 of the cases, broken down between 3,379 residents and 4,117 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,352 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,567 residents and 21,651 staff, for a total of 54,218 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,998 on April 8. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,856 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.