New Jersey is calling in the National Guard again for nursing homes around the state that are facing staffing issues caused by the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced Jan. 6 that the New Jersey National Guard will be deploying to long-term care facilities throughout the Garden State to assist with COVID-19 response efforts and to augment facilities’ staffing.
The call up is an extension of Joint Task Force COVID Guardian, which has provided coordinated assistance to numerous long-term care facilities since the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assigned Next Week
“Time and time again, the New Jersey National Guard has stepped up to the plate throughout this pandemic,” said Murphy in a press statement. “This deployment will send members of our National Guard to long-term care facilities with staffing needs and will act to protect the health and safety of long-term-care residents while the Omicron variant surges throughout the nation.”
The state will be assigned approximately 150 guard members starting Jan. 10 at more than a dozen long-term care facilities around the state. Guard members will assist regular staff with a variety of tasks, including administrative and logistical support.
“COVID-19 is still a threat to our New Jersey communities,” said Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Brig. Gen. Lisa Hou, D.O. “The Soldiers and Airmen of the New Jersey National Guard are working hard every day to protect public health.”
Tasks that National Guard members will assist with will include:
- Assist residents with getting from bed to chair, walking
- Assistance in dressing and daily hygiene activities
- Meal set-up and feeding
- Routine assistance
- Testing and screening staff, residents, and visitors’
“We are grateful to the National Guard for their assistance in caring for the residents of those facilities most in need,” said Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Throughout this pandemic, protecting our most vulnerable residents has been paramount. As we have seen in the community, COVID-19 cases and outbreaks have been rising for several weeks in our long-term care facilities. We continue to work closely with long-term care facilities throughout the state to ensure that they have the staff they need.”
Persichilli earlier this week said her office along with the state’s Office of Emergency Management were working with FEMA on requests for federal strike teams to support hospitals and long-term care facilities due to staff shortages. The request was for 10 strike teams of 15 members each.
“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,” said Persichilli.
The National Guard has been used in various roles through the pandemic in New Jersey. They were deployed in the early days of the pandemic to staff field hospitals as well as at New Jersey Veterans homes in Paramus, Menlo Park and Vineland. In May 2020, New Jersey also sent 120 National Guard soldiers to other long-term care facilities to help back up staffs. Then, as in the latest deployment, the soldiers were not medical professionals, but were sent to support the facilities in non-clinical roles.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 513 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 14,306 of the cases, broken down between 5,627 residents and 8,679 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,301 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 39,438 residents and 31,699 staff, for a total of 71,137.
The state’s official death total—reported as those that are lab confirmed—sits at 8,799 on Jan. 7. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,125 residents deaths and 146 staff deaths.
As of Jan. 7, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,535,503 with 33,459 total new PCR cases. There were 5,930 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 246,960. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,782,463.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 63 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 26,519. The state listed probable deaths at 2,855, bringing the overall total to 29,374. State officials noted 64 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Jan. 7, Bergen had a total of 3,412 new confirmed cases and 669 new probable cases, Essex 3,672 new cases and 245 new probable case, Hudson 2,529 new cases and 316 new probable cases, Morris 1,775 new confirmed cases and 313 new probable cases, Passaic 2,349 new cases and 274 new probable cases, Sussex 377 new cases and 104 new probable cases, and Warren 405 new cases and 62 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,925, followed by Bergen at 2,793, Hudson with 2,245, Passaic at 1,891, Morris at 1,086, Sussex at 307, and Warren County at 260.
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. 7, it declined to 1.67 from 1.69 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Jan. 2, was 37.0%; by region, the rate was 35.7% in the North, 39.7% in the Central region and 35.9% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 5,621 patients hospitalized as all of the 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Jan. 7. By region, there were 2,582 in the North, 1,755 in the Central and 1,284 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 781 are in intensive care units and 419 on ventilators—the first time above 400 since Jan. 28, 2021. A total of 834 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, 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 13,074,784 in-state, plus an additional 516,347 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,591,131 as of Jan. 7.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,235,797 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 6,446,689. 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 1,230,795 for Pfizer and 1,041,590 for Moderna. A total of 49,286 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,327,671 have received a booster or third shot. Overall, 46% of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 685,495 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 550,574, Hudson 492,717, Morris 369,845, Passaic 335,163, Sussex 88,901, and Warren 57,763.