A week after all school staffers are to be vaccinated or face being tested multiple times a week, New Jersey will require schools to report on a weekly basis their COVID-19 numbers.
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) will require all school districts to report COVID-19 testing data to the Communicable Disease Reporting Surveillance System (CDRSS) on a weekly basis starting Oct. 26. The cases reported to the department include any testing conducted by schools, their testing vendors, and cases reported to the schools by parents, students, and staff.
The state required schools to return to all in-person classes this Fall, with students and staff members in preschool through 12th grade required to wear masks indoors. Additionally, all public and private school employees are to be fully vaccinated against the virus or undergo regular testing by Oct. 18. Additionally, all childcare workers and facility employees in childcare settings to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 or face regular weekly testing.
“This reporting will give us a more complete picture of the cases and vaccination rates among students and staff, which we can then report to (the public),” Murphy said at his press briefing Oct. 6, where he clarified that the Oct. 18 deadline for school staff to be fully vaccinated includes bus drivers. “We are doing all we can to ensure that the school day is as safe as possible for kids and that commitment begins at the bus stop.”
The current information on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard in regards to school just deals with in-school transmission. State officials noted the aggregate reporting does not replace the requirement that testing administrators report individual COVID-19 test results to local public health authorities.
In the guidance, the department said schools will report aggregate vaccination data on staff and students so it can be analyzed for trends and eventually published on the NJDOH’s COVID-19 dashboard.
NJDOH Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted 758 public and nonpublic schools signed up for the $267 million in federal grants available to implement COVID-19 screening testing for students and staff in K-12 schools. Broken down, the grants will go to 552 public school districts and 206 nonpublic schools that covers nearly 1.4 million students and staffers.
“As schools implement testing, this will provide insight on the circulation of the virus among children and school staff,” said Persichilli. “Children under 12 can not be vaccinated yet. So we need strong vaccine coverage in these populations that come into contact with these young individuals in order to protect them.”
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, the state has tracked 69 school outbreaks and 379 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 30 outbreaks and 267 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 319 students and 60 teachers in 62 communities across 18 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 6, Passaic County has two confirmed outbreak with 62 cases, Essex County has four confirmed outbreak with 16 cases, Bergen County has four confirmed outbreak with 25 cases, Morris County has four confirmed outbreaks with 22 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, and Sussex has three confirmed outbreak with 13 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,822,788 in-state, plus an additional 438,677 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,261,465 as of Oct. 6. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,708,088 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 188,660 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,896,748. State officials reported 136,047 have received a third booster shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,320,746 doses (636,286 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,024,641 doses (491,119), Hudson 924,718 doses (444,667), Morris 716,242 doses (343,640), Passaic 636,486 doses (306,595), Sussex 168,104 doses (82,598), and Warren 109,937 doses (53,691).
As of Oct. 6, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,011,758 with 1,512 total new PCR cases. There were 451 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 152,620. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,164,378.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 20 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,745. The state listed probable deaths at 2,797, bringing the overall total to 27,542. State officials noted 19 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 6, Bergen had a total of 153 new confirmed cases and 36 new probable cases, Essex 128 new cases and 23 new probable case, Hudson 67 new cases and 14 new probable cases, Morris 50 new confirmed cases and 25 new probable cases, Passaic 83 new cases and 21 new probable cases, Sussex 33 new cases and 19 new probable cases, and Warren 21 new cases and seven new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,822, followed by Bergen at 2,659, Hudson with 2,151, Passaic at 1,789, Morris at 1,027, Sussex at 252, and Warren County at 225.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 4, Essex has 311, Bergen has 308, Morris has 265, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 69 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,541,443 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 20, 30,267 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 629 COVID-related hospitalizations and 158 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 13-Sept. 19, breakthroughs accounted for 24.8% of all new cases (3,414 of 10,760), 4.2% of new hospilizations (42 of 1,000), and two of the 121 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 6, it remained at 0.88 for a second straight day. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 2 was 5.2%; by region, the rate was 4.6% in the North, 5.8% in the Central region and 5.6% in the South.
The state reported 1,034 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 315 in the North, 323 in the Central and 396 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 242 are in intensive care units and 130 on ventilators. A total of 144 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 158 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,245 of the cases, broken down between 669 residents and 576 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,742 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,716 residents and 23,048 staff, for a total of 56,764.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,558 on Oct. 6. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,971 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.