In his first briefing since new COVID-19 cases exploded in New Jersey the last two weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy announced he has asked state legislative leaders to extend health emergency powers mandated to end next week.
The governor’s health emergency powers were to sunset on Jan. 12 and the formal request for a three month extension covers a number of administrative orders, directives, and waivers that have been issued by New Jersey departments and agencies in response to the pandemic.
“On Jan. 1, I formally notified leadership in the Senate and Assembly to extend for an additional 90 days our administration’s emergency powers related to vaccine distribution and administration, testing, and ensuring adherence to CDC guidance particularly as it relates to masking in vulnerable settings,” said Murphy at a virtual COVID-19 briefing Jan. 3.
First Lady Update
“With the exponential surge in our numbers, it would be the height of irresponsibility to lift these basic public health requirements at this time. I—and we—will not let that happen,” Murphy added.
The announcement came after Murphy started his first COVID-19 briefing since Dec. 20, 2021 with an update on the health of the state’s First Lady, Tammy Murphy, who tested positive Jan. 2 and is asymptomatic. The governor relayed that the Murphy family tested themselves due to a recent known non-family contact in their home after they returned from an eight-day family vacation to Costa Rica. While he and the rest of the family have tested negative, Murphy said they will continue to test regularly in the coming days.
The latest surge, which has resulted in pandemic records for hospitalizations as well as new cases on a nearly daily basis for the last week, is why Murphy requested the extension of the health emergency powers. Murphy noted the new daily cases on the state’s dashboard are merely the floor due to those taking at home tests not being reported into the health department’s database.
“This omicron tsunami has changed the game yet again,” Murphy said. “We cannot summarily give up the fight. We need to remain on a war footing to ensure that we can get resources to where they need to be and when they need to be there.”
Among those powers Murphy seeks to possibly retain include the ability to order statewide masking rules in line with CDC guidelines and moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs
School Mask Mandate
To that end, Murphy confirmed the state will extend the in-school mask mandate set to expire Jan. 11 due to the large numbers of students in younger age groups being unvaccinated. The continuance of the masks mandates would be the biggest direct effect to residents of New Jersey, he said.
“This means masks will be worn…to ensure that in-person learning continues,” the governor dstated. “This brings us absolutely no joy…but this is what is necessary now to keep our schools safe.”
Murphy reiterated that while some districts have moved to remote learning, he said the state “has no intention or plan to shut our schools down. We will do everything we can to keep our kids in school where we know they will have a more appropriate educational experience but where the data actually shows us they can be safe.”
As of Jan. 3, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,418,352 with 20,428 total new PCR cases—breaking another single day high. There were 2,197 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 226,487. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,644,839.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 12 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 26,218. The state listed probable deaths at 2,855, bringing the overall total to 29,073. State officials noted 26 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Jan. 3, Bergen had a total of 2,051 new confirmed cases and 157 new probable cases, Essex 2,895 new cases and 197 new probable case, Hudson 1,449 new cases and 87 new probable cases, Morris 1,632 new confirmed cases and 128 new probable cases, Passaic 1,245 new cases and 131 new probable cases, Sussex 480 new cases and 28 new probable cases, and Warren 290 new cases and 12 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,903, followed by Bergen at 2,763, Hudson with 2,226, Passaic at 1,865, Morris at 1,078, Sussex at 299, and Warren County at 254.
In regards to probable deaths reported Jan. 3, Bergen has 312, Essex has 310, Morris has 271, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 73 and Warren has 26.
Of the 6,081,483 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Dec. 19, 2021, 91,896 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated (1.5%). Of those 1,682 have been hospitalized and 401 COVID-related deaths—less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Dec. 13-19, 2021, breakthroughs accounted for 28.0% of all new cases (12,453 of 44,481), 0.9% of new hospilizations (17 of 1,804), and one of the 136 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Jan. 3, it remained at 1.77 from the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Dec. 30, 2021, was 32.2%; by region, the rate was 33.3% in the North, 32.2% in the Central region and 28.2% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 4,715 patients hospitalized as all of the 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Jan. 3—its highest mark since May 7, 2020. By region, there were 2,172 in the North, 1,488 in the Central and 1,055 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 644 are in intensive care units and 284 on ventilators. A total of 461 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 just 29% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 5,152 and new staff cases 1,973 in the last week as of Dec. 26, 2021. Cumulatively, 60,698 cases have been reported— 48,690 students and 12,008 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 84.1% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 90.8%, followed by Morris at 90.6%, Sussex at 87.9%, Warren at 87.8%, Passaic at 82.9%, Essex at 81.6%, and Hudson at 73.7%, the lowest county in the state.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Dec. 29, 2021, the state has tracked 373 school outbreaks and 1,889 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 37 outbreaks and 234 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 40 confirmed outbreak with 205 cases, Morris County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 190 cases, Passaic County has 19 confirmed outbreak with 170 cases, Sussex has 28 confirmed outbreak with 150 cases, Essex County has 19 confirmed outbreak with 110 cases, Hudson County has 17 confirmed outbreaks with 66 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 439 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 9,031 of the cases, broken down between 3,189 residents and 5,842 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,227 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 36,998 residents and 28,860 staff, for a total of 65,858.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,772 on Jan. 3. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,090 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,031,461 in-state, plus an additional 512,890 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,544,351 as of Jan. 3.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,219,585 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 210,394 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,429,979. A total of 74% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in New Jersey and 87% have received at least one dose.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,198,981 for Pfizer and 1,017,255 for Moderna. A total of 48,276 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,264,512 have received a booster or third shot—46% of those eligible.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 682,938 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 549,084, Hudson 490,880, Morris 369,061, Passaic 334,287, Sussex 88,527, and Warren 57,657.