State officials are considering taking more aggressive steps to increase the rate of long-term care facilities staffers receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey.
“This is one of the few areas where it is frustrating and angering for us,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing May 10. “I continue to be personally against a mandate (but) at a certain point, we will have to step in.”
The governor pointed out that the vaccination rated for residents is “as good as it is in the country,” nearing 85% compared with staffers under 60% . New Jersey Department Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli added outbreaks in long-term care are still an issue, with a large majority being attributed to staffers.
“The staff vaccination levels continue to be unacceptable low,” said the governor. “Staffing (vaccination levels) have gotten better, but it continues to lag and hasn’t gotten to where it has to be.”
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 199 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 5,304 of the cases, broken down between 2,290 residents and 3,014 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,441 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,870 residents and 22,171 staff, for a total of 55,041.
The state’s official death total, reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,037 on May 10. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,878 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.
Murphy stressed residents and families whose loved ones are in nursing homes, veterans homes and other long-term care facilities have every right to know what level of staff is vaccinated and what’s the plan to get that number to an acceptable level.
“The residents and their families have been so willing to get vaccinated,” said Murphy, who praised the cooperation of operators since the vaccine became available to make sure those most vulnerable are taken care of.
“We are going to stay on it, but if you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, please ask management two questions: what percentage of your staff is vaccinated and what is your plan to get that number up,” stated Murphy.
Mandate Not Ruled Out
The governor stated any incentive for those who have not received the vaccine, including cash, may be considered going forward.
While Murphy said his wish for people is to decide to get the vaccine of their own free will, staffers in long-term care facilities may be an exception to that case.
“Would we consider other steps? I think if we had to we would,” he stated. “If we continue to see….all the breakouts from staffers, at some point our patience runs thin on that.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 7,652,487 in state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 8,010,461 as of May 10. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,468,784 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 162,349 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 3,631,133.
Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 57% are White, 13% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 8% Black, 7% unknown, and 4% other. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 34% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 26% are between the ages of 30-49, and 11% are between the ages of 16-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 847,574 doses (389,323 fully vaccinated), Essex 614,244 doses (273,987), Morris 515,563 doses (238,078), Hudson 521,813 doses (228,644), Passaic 375,015 doses (168,308), Sussex 117,511 doses (53,199), and Warren 75,227 doses (33,814).
As of May 10, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 880,635 with 459 total new PCR cases reported. There were 106 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 127,411. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,008,046. 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 10 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,170. The state listed probable deaths at 2,640, bringing the overall total to 25,810. 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 May 10, Bergen had a total of 40 new confirmed cases and 12 probable cases, Essex 52 new cases and 12 probable cases, Hudson 45 new cases and three probable cases, Morris 18 new cases and five probable cases, Passaic 47 new cases and 10 probable cases, Sussex nine new cases and two probable cases, and Warren seven cases and one new probable case.
There are a total of 3,655 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 3,376 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 146 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 122 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and 11 cases of the South African (B.1351) variant.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,635, followed by Bergen at 2,549, Hudson with 2,024, Passaic at 1,691, Morris at 966, Sussex at 231 and Warren County at 210.
In regards to probable deaths reported May 5, Essex has 295, Bergen has 295, Morris has 252, Hudson has 213, Passaic has 195, Sussex has 67 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission reported May 10, it increased to 0.94 from 0.81 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 5, was 3.6%; by region, the rate was 3.5% in the North, 3.4% in the Central region and 3.9% in the South.
Officials reported 1,063 patients were hospitalized; 995 cases were confirmed and 78 are under investigation. By region, there were 527 in the North, 271 in the Central and 281 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 250 are in intensive care units and 165 on ventilators. A total of 114 patients were discharged, while 92 were admitted.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, 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 88,936, followed by Middlesex at 84,086, Essex at 84,073, Hudson at 78,432, Monmouth at 66,868, Ocean at 65,138, Passaic at 64,911, Union at 59,913, Camden at 48,214, Morris at 41,567, Burlington at 37,844, Mercer at 31,239, Gloucester at 26,215, Atlantic at 24,685, Somerset at 24,055, Cumberland at 14,613, Sussex at 11,537, Warren at 8,803, Hunterdon at 8,762, Salem at 5,458, and Cape May at 4,553.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,416, followed by Union at 10,932, Ocean at 10,070, Essex at 9,367, Hudson at 9,164, Morris at 8,102, Monmouth at 8,022, Middlesex at 7,330, Passaic at 7,273, Atlantic at 6,581, Camden at 6,451, Burlington at 6,274, Somerset at 5,701, Cape May at 4,507, Gloucester at 3,903, Mercer at 2,335, Sussex at 2,251, Cumberland at 2,209, Warren at 1,002, Hunterdon at 888, and Salem 531.
Another 733 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 263 outbreaks involving 1,157 cases, accounting for seven additionally outbreaks and 41 cases from the previous weekly update on May 10.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 53 confirmed outbreaks with 202 cases, Sussex has 17 confirmed outbreaks with 81 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 55 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has five confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.