The day before hospitalizations in New Jersey dropped below 1,000 for the first time in 45 days, state officials expressed confidence that new COVID-19 cases were beginning to trend down and hospitals would be able to handle any expected uptick in the coming months.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted at a Oct. 6 press briefing that over the last two weeks, new hospitalizations have decreased by 16%, individuals in ICU have decreased by 8%, individuals on ventilators have decreased by 6%, and the overall census in state hospitals of COVID-19 individuals have decreased by 7%.
Gov. Phil Murphy pointed out that cases, hospitalizations and deaths are “generally…trending in the right direction. Not with a big quantum step in the right direction, but generally going in the right direction.”
On A Downward Curve
Later, Murphy would go further in stating “this feels like a sign that the curve is dropping as it goes through the various waves. So the first wave was the first; it went down. It kicked back up; the second wave wasn’t nearly as bad. It kicked down. Delta brought it back up but not as bad as the second wave.”
Persichilli explained that her department every two weeks evaluates the assumptions around predictive modeling and currently expects an increase in cases after Thanksgiving. The variables cited that impact forecasts include the efficacy of vaccines, the CDC recommendations on who can get vaccinated and when, and daily health metrics including hospitalizations as well as patients in ICU and those on ventilators.
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“If we compare ourselves today to what happened last year, we do expect an uptick,” said the commissioner. “I can say with the decreasing hospitalizations and steadying of the cases, the predictive modeling we’ve just done is far different than it was even three weeks ago, and that’s why we update it every two weeks.”
Reassuring School Results
New Jersey Department of Health Medical Advisor Dr. Edward Lifshitz said while it is too early to give any definitive trends in terms of what is happening in schools, what health officials have seen “overall it’s relatively reassuring.”
“It was certainly concerning to me as children and college-aged people in particular went back to school…one of the things we saw last year is as college-aged kids went back to school, we began to see increases in that age group,” said Lifshitz. “We’re not seeing an increase really in the rates in the college-aged kids (now), probably largely because they’re much more vaccinated than the younger kids.”
Persichilli stressed that the uptick forecast for between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be “within a range that can be handled very well by our hospitals.”
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 7, it increased to 0.89 after two straight days at 0.88. 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 986 patients were hospitalized, the first time it has been under a 1,000 when the state recorded 982 on Aug. 23; by region, there were 305 in the North, 296 in the Central and 385 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 234 are in intensive care units and 126 on ventilators. A total of 152 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.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,849,762 in-state, plus an additional 438,677 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,288,439 as of Oct. 7. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,715,669 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 5,904,329 State officials reported 136,047 have received a third booster shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,324,517 doses (637,105 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,026,770 doses (491,919), Hudson 926,740 doses (445,520), Morris 717,618 doses (343,920), Passaic 637,621 doses (306,988), Sussex 168,454 doses (82,667), and Warren 110,093 doses (53,734).
As of Oct. 7, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,013,445 with 1,730 total new PCR cases. There were 464 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 152,998. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,166,443.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 15 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,754. The state listed probable deaths at 2,797, bringing the overall total to 27,551. State officials noted 11 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 7, Bergen had a total of 127 new confirmed cases and 47 new probable cases, Essex 123 new cases and 19 new probable case, Hudson 61 new cases and 23 new probable cases, Morris 82 new confirmed cases and 22 new probable cases, Passaic 71 new cases and 19 new probable cases, Sussex 44 new cases and eight new probable cases, and Warren 27 new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,822, followed by Bergen at 2,660, Hudson with 2,153, Passaic at 1,790, Morris at 1,028, Sussex at 252, and Warren County at 226.
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.
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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 162 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,294 of the cases, broken down between 701 residents and 593 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,747 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,749 residents and 23,067 staff, for a total of 56,816.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,560 on Oct. 7. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,974 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.