After a meeting in which President Joe Biden pledged to help governors across the U.S. battle the lastest surge of the coronavirus, the federal government will help with a testing center in New Jersey.
To increase availability of COVID-19 testing in the state, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Dec. 27 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will establish a surge testing site in New Jersey. The site will be part of the CDC’s Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) for COVID-19 Surge Response effort, which partners with pharmacies and commercial laboratories to provide free testing resources to underserved communities.
“With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and provide tools for our residents to stay safe,” said Murphy in a press statement. “This testing site will be an invaluable means to continue mitigating the spread of the pandemic. I thank our federal partners for their continued support and commitment to keeping New Jerseyans healthy.”
Working with CDC
The New Jersey Department of Health is currently working with CDC officials to determine a location for the surge testing site, when a location is selected and a timeline for opening is established it will be announced to the public.
“We appreciate the federal government’s support to make this resource available to New Jersey residents,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Testing is an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”
Conference Call With President
The announcement was preceded by a conference call with the National Governors Association hosted by the Biden Administration that included Murphy who is on a family vacation in Costa Rica. On that call, the President told the nation’s governors in a virtual meeting the federal government was prepared to help them cope with rising coronavirus cases due to the omicron variant.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) thanked the President for his comments last week to “depoliticize our COVID response.” Hutchinson, who heads up the National Governors Association, added that he wanted to “make sure that we do not let federal solutions stand in the way of state solutions.”
President Biden responded that “If (a governor needs) something, say something…We’re going to have your back.” Additionally, the President acknowledged that “seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do.”
New Isolation Rules
Besides testing, federal health officials shortened by half the recommended isolation period for many infected Americans, hoping to minimize rising disruptions to the economy and everyday life. The CDC had previously recommended that infected patients isolate for 10 days from when they were tested for the virus.
But on Dec. 27, it slashed that period to five days for those without symptoms, or those without fevers whose other symptoms were resolving. Americans leaving isolation should wear masks around others for an additional five days after their isolation periods have ended.
As of Dec. 28, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,267,756 with 11,889 total new PCR cases. There were 3,947 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 201,125. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,468,881.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 48 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 26,068. The state listed probable deaths at 2,849, bringing the overall total to 28,917. State officials noted 40 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Dec. 28, Bergen had a total of 1,594 new confirmed cases and 412 new probable cases, Essex 1,910 new cases and 246 new probable case, Hudson 923 new cases and 129 new probable cases, Morris 561 new confirmed cases and 175 new probable cases, Passaic 831 new cases and 209 new probable cases, Sussex 155 new cases and 24 new probable cases, and Warren 84 new cases and 16 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,894, followed by Bergen at 2,751, Hudson with 2,209, Passaic at 1,858, Morris at 1,076, Sussex at 295, and Warren County at 251.
In regards to probable deaths reported Dec. 27, Bergen has 312, Essex has 310, Morris has 270, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 73 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported Dec. 28, it climbed to 1.73 from 1.66 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Dec. 23 was 21.4%; by region, the rate was 22.6% in the North, 21.3% in the Central region and 17.1% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 2,979 patients hospitalized as all of the 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Dec. 28. By region, there were 1,401 in the North, 884 in the Central and 694 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 492 are in intensive care units and 244 on ventilators. A total of 234 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 with 61% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 7,716 and new staff cases 2,092 in the last week as of Dec. 19. Cumulatively, 34,331 cases have been reported— 44,532 students and 10,274 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 84.6% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 89.9%, followed by Warren at 86.9%, Morris at 86.6%, Sussex at 85.8%, Passaic at 85.2%, Essex at 81.6%, and Hudson at 76.7%, the lowest county in the state.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Dec. 22, the state has tracked 336 school outbreaks and 1,889 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 42 outbreaks and 271 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 39 confirmed outbreak with 198 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreak with 160 cases, Morris County has 27 confirmed outbreaks with 134 cases, Sussex has 25 confirmed outbreak with 121 cases, Essex County has 17 confirmed outbreak with 86 cases, Hudson County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 63 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 326 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 3,518 of the cases, broken down between 1,277 residents and 2,241 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,105 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 35,076 residents and 25,231 staff, for a total of 60,307.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,762 on Dec. 28. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,057 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,942,178 in-state, plus an additional 506,171 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,448,349 as of Dec. 28.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,190,216 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 211,622 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,401,838.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,129,579 for Pfizer and 960,086 for Moderna. A total of 46,205 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,135,870 have received a booster or third shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 680,109 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 545,996, Hudson 487,792, Morris 367,521, Passaic 332,893, Sussex 88,251, and Warren 57,436.