New Jersey recorded the third highest single day total of new cases, approaching levels not seen since the surge of last winter.
The state’s dashboard recorded 6,271 new PCR confirmed cases on Dec. 16. The only other days that have surpassed that number were 6,922 on Jan. 13, 6,435 on Jan. 9, and 6,314 on Jan. 7. Additionally, 1,366 probable cases were recorded, resulting in a one-day total of 7,637.
In previous surges, highs were recorded of 4,491 in April 2020, 4,699 in April 2021 and 3,079 in September 2021.
Reasons for Rise
The new data comes from a number of factors according to state health officials. They include more activities being moved indoors where the virus is more easily spread; holiday gatherings; waning immunity from the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine; and a new, more easily transmissible variant.
The high number of new cases comes the day after the year anniversary of the first New Jersey residents receiving their initial COVID-19 vaccine dose. Gov. Phil Murphy and others used the day to push more those who have not yet to received their booster shot.
“There is much work to do…but we are in a much stronger place than where we were a year ago,” said Murphy. “But we need more New Jerseyans to step back into that queue to get boosted. The booster is not a bonus, it is a necessity.”
While breakthrough cases are increasing, the majority of cases and, more importantly, hospilizations is that of the unvaccinated. Health officials stated earlier this week that the unvaccinated are going into the hospital for COVID at a rate six times those of the vaccinated
“What we’re seeing here in New Jersey is…a divergence where individuals who are unvaccinated represent a higher slope, while individuals who are vaccinated represent a less steep slope in comparison,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan. “The difference between those two lines is increasing, meaning that there definitely is a difference between those who are getting vaccinated versus those who are unvaccinated becoming hospitalized.
Doing What Works
Murphy reminded besides getting vaccinated, wearing a mask indoors when you do not know the vaccination status of those assembled, social distancing, staying home if you are sick and getting tested are the best practices to curtail the spread of the virus.
The governor earlier this week reiterated that all of the protocols should be followed in order to prevent New Jersey’s hospital system from being overrun as they are experiencing a nursing shortage. The state reported 1,756 COVID-19 patients in the state’s 71 hospitals; comparatively, 3,669 coronavirus patients were hospitalized the same date last year.
“We can afford high positive case numbers as a general matter but we can not break the capacity of our hospitals,” said Murphy. “I say that as a numerical matter, nevermind the fatigue (and) stresses of nurses and other healthcare staff. It just doesn’t need to be that way.”
As of Dec. 16, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,144,734 with 3,524 total new PCR cases. There were 1,654 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 178,597 The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,323,331,108.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 16 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 25,824. The state listed probable deaths at 2,835, bringing the overall total to 28,659. 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 Dec. 16, Bergen had a total of 583 new confirmed cases and 140 new probable cases, Essex 744 new cases and 66 new probable case, Hudson 425 new cases and 45 new probable cases, Morris 307 new confirmed cases and 129 new probable cases, Passaic 360 new cases and 55 new probable cases, Sussex 126 new cases and 34 new probable cases, and Warren 100 new cases and 13 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,881, followed by Bergen at 2,734, Hudson with 2,192, Passaic at 1,847, Morris at 1,061, Sussex at 288, and Warren County at 242.
In regards to probable deaths reported Dec. 13, Bergen has 312, Essex has 310, Morris has 267, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 73 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported Dec. 16, it declined to 1.26 from 1.29 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Dec. 11 was 11.6%; by region, the rate was 10.7% in the North, 12.8% in the Central region and 12.0% in the South.
The state reported 1,756 patients were hospitalized as all of the state’s 71 hospitals reported. By region, there were 703 in the North, 563 in the Central and 490 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 335 are in intensive care units and 155 on ventilators. A total of 225 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.
According to the state dashboard, new student cases totaled 4,998 and new staff cases 1,168 in the last week as of Dec. 5. Cumulatively, 38,044 cases have been reported— 31,068 students and 6,976 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 80.5% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 90.8%, followed by Sussex at 86.1%, Warren at 86.0%, Passaic at 86.0%, Morris at 84.3%, Essex at 82.5%, and Hudson at 79.0%, the third lowest county in the state.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions as of Dec. 15, the state has tracked 294 school outbreaks and 1,618 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 47 outbreaks and 273 cases from the week previous.
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 in the new report, Bergen County has 32 confirmed outbreak with 139 cases, Passaic County has 14 confirmed outbreak with 136 cases, Morris County has 19 confirmed outbreaks with 108 cases, Sussex has 24 confirmed outbreak with 105 cases, Essex County has 16 confirmed outbreak with 82 cases, Hudson County has 13 confirmed outbreaks with 53 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 187 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,479 of the cases, broken down between 724 residents and 755 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,958 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 34,460 residents and 23,719 staff, for a total of 58,179.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,735 on Dec. 15. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,038 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,744,192 in-state, plus an additional 525,231 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,269,423 as of Dec. 16.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,127,119 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 205,651 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,332,770. A total of 7,127,428 have received at least their first dose, or 84% of those eligible, as of Dec. 13.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 954,602 for Pfizer and 819,063 for Moderna. A total of 40,327 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 1,813,992 have received a booster or third shot, or a total of 38% of those eligible.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 673,788 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 540,138, Hudson 482,112, Morris 363,823, Passaic 329,779, Sussex 87,508, and Warren 56,956.