As the number of those hospitalized continues to climb in New Jersey, state health officials believe the peak will be hit late in the second week of January.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the highest number of cases is projected for Jan. 14 but allowed that the number could be reached sooner. The total as of Jan. 5 was 5,564—the highest since May 2, 2020.
“(The date) could move up a little bit because we’re exceeding what the model shows,” Persichilli stated at a press briefing Jan. 3. “We’re looking at the peak between 6,000 and it could be as high as 9,000 hospitalizations. Hopefully the trajectory goes up as fast (and) comes down as fast as it goes up.”
Gov. Phil Murphy said the all-time high was 8,270 in April 2020. Previous surge highs in hospitalizations during the pandemic were 1,176 on Sept. 7, 2021, 2,378 April 7, 2021, and 3,873 Dec. 23, 2020.
While the current numbers have surpassed all early surges except for the first weeks of the pandemic, the rise in COVID-19 patients comes as hospitals are dealing with staffing issues.
“Hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the state are experiencing large staff shortages due to COVID,” said Persichilli. “The conversations that we’ve had with both long-term care and with our hospitals is to plan for and anticipate that 30%, at a minimum, of their employees may be out sick at any given time.”
But one North Jersey hospital is noting quicker recovery for patients than in the past. According to a Valley Hospital doctor, COVID patients who are hospitalized in this wave of the pandemic are spending less time in the hospital—five to eight days, compared with 10 to 15 in previous surges.
“The only silver lining in this is that the patients are not as sick,” said Dr. Robert Brenner, president for clinical integration and physician enterprise at Valley Health System. “They’re coming in quicker, getting sick quicker, getting better quicker and going home.”
Murphy expressed hope the case trajectory would come down as fast as it has gone up, citing South Africa and the UK as examples. The governor said the hospitalizations “are big numbers” that are growing in “leaps and bounds every day, overwhelmingly unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated folks.”
“The sheer numbers of new cases are directly leading to hospitalization figures we have not seen in well over a year,” he said. “The last thing we can allow is for our hospitals to be overrun.”
As of Jan. 5, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,474,871 with 31,391 total new PCR cases. There were 7,203 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 236,867. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,711,738.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 58 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 26,354. The state listed probable deaths at 2,855, bringing the overall total to 29,209. State officials noted 52 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Jan. 5, Bergen had a total of 3,143 new confirmed cases and 781 new probable cases, Essex 3,113 new cases and 414 new probable case, Hudson 2,064 new cases and 220 new probable cases, Morris 1,399 new confirmed cases and 373 new probable cases, Passaic 2,168 new cases and 421 new probable cases, Sussex 470 new cases and 197 new probable cases, and Warren 187 new cases and 49 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,909, followed by Bergen at 2,776, Hudson with 2,234, Passaic at 1,876, Morris at 1,083, Sussex at 304, and Warren County at 256.
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, declined to 1.71 from 1.74 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Dec. 31, 2021, was 35.9%; by region, the rate was 36.9% in the North, 36.7% in the Central region and 21.9% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 5,464 patients hospitalized as all of the 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Jan. 5—its highest mark since May 2, 2020. By region, there were 2,493 in the North, 1,711 in the Central and 1,260 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 727 are in intensive care units and 362 on ventilators. A total of 693 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 491 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 11,689 of the cases, broken down between 4,374 residents and 7,315 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,279 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 38,185 residents and 30,335 staff, for a total of 68,520.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,775 on Jan. 5. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,108 residents deaths and 1502 staff deaths.
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, 360,698 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 Jan. 4, the state has tracked 384 school outbreaks and 2,227 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 11 outbreaks and 338 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 47 confirmed outbreak with 258 cases, Morris County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 190 cases, Passaic County has 19 confirmed outbreak with 170 cases, Sussex has 190 confirmed outbreak with 156 cases, Essex County has 19 confirmed outbreak with 110 cases, Hudson County has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 89 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,068,350 in-state, plus an additional 516,347 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,584,697 as of Jan. 5.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,233,086 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 210,892 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,443,978. 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 1,226,121 for Pfizer and 1,038,321 for Moderna. A total of 49,124 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,313,566 have received a booster or third shot. Overall, 46% of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 685,047 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 550,340, Hudson 492,150, Morris 369,775, Passaic 335,068, Sussex 88,876, and Warren 57,749.