State health officials laid out a timeline for the current COVID-19 surge that expects key health metrics not plateauing until late February.
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said based on the current data and trends, state officials believe hospitalizations will climb to about 8,000 most likely by the end of the 3rd week in January and going into the first weeks of February.
“The peak actually could occur sometime in the first two weeks of February before there’s a downturn. We do believe we are going to have high levels for a couple of weeks,” said Persichilli at a press briefing Jan. 10.
Health Metrics Expectations
For a trend line of other data, Persichilli detailed that the number of new cases will peak first, expected to be followed with a high in hospitalizations a week or two after that and then finally the apex in deaths two week after.
“We do expect cases to stay at 20,000 to 30,000 for the duration of January,” said the commissioner.
Members of the Murphy Administration 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.
The backdrop of what the next six weeks will look like comes as Gov. Phil Murphy and State Senate and Assembly leaders were locked in battle to extend the governor’s pandemic-related emergency powers set to expire Jan. 12. State legislative leaders in both houses pulled back a bill that would have narrowly extended the powers for 45 days—half of what Murphy asked for—after the governor stated face mask mandates in school would stay that were not included in the bill.
While the politics of the pandemic plays out, health officials pointed to signs that some key metrics were trending in the right direction and were hopeful that would continue.
“The rate of transmission has started to inch down. God willing that is the beginning of something but I don’t know that we know enough to be able to say that,” said Persichilli. “Omicron is a funny variant that shoots way up then, like in South Africa came down just as quickly—we can only hope that occurs.”
Looking at South Africa
State epidemiologist Christina Tan commented that the peak is expected to come earlier in the New Jersey region than in other parts of the country. Murphy and health officials expressed hope that the U.S. would follow the same timeline as what happened in South Africa, where cases peaked in mid-December, after the variant was identified in late November.
Murphy noted the current number of hospitalizations in New Jersey is nearly four times the number one month ago, when 1,531 COVID patients were being treated in Garden State hospitals, while ICU and the number of patients on ventilators has almost doubled since Christmas.
As of Jan. 11, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,634,131 with 21,483 total new PCR cases. There were 4,391 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 258,011. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,892,142.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 142 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 26,765. The state listed probable deaths at 2,869, bringing the overall total to 29,634. State officials noted 71 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Jan.11, Bergen had a total of 2,061 new confirmed cases and 499 new probable cases, Essex 2,293 new cases and 218 new probable case, Hudson 1,543 new cases and 251 new probable cases, Morris 1,302 new confirmed cases and 179 new probable cases, Passaic 1,317 new cases and 197 new probable cases, Sussex 337 new cases and 33 new probable cases, and Warren 312 new cases and 30 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,946, followed by Bergen at 2,821, Hudson with 2,261, Passaic at 1,912, Morris at 1,095, Sussex at 310, and Warren County at 267.
In regards to probable deaths reported Jan. 10, Bergen has 314, Essex has 310, Morris has 274, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 74 and Warren has 27.
Of the 6,145,961 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Dec. 27, 2021, 128,172 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated (2.1%). Of those 1,687 have been hospitalized and 448 COVID-related deaths—less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Dec. 20-26, 2021, breakthroughs accounted for 31.0% of all new cases (31,334 of 101,000), 0.2% of new hospilizations (4 of 2,640), and five of the 146 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Jan. 11, it declined to 1.55 for the second day in a row. The daily rate of infections from those tested Jan. 6 was 30.2%; by region, the rate was 28.8% in the North, 32.6% in the Central region and 30.4% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 6,036 patients hospitalized as all 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Jan. 11. By region, there were 2,685 in the North, 1,917 in the Central and 1,434 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 892 are in intensive care units and 500 on ventilators—reaching that number for the first time since Dec. 27, 2020. A total of 548 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 527 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 17,182 of the cases, broken down between 7,054 residents and 10,128 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,316 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 40,866 residents and 33,148 staff, for a total of 74,014.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,826 on Jan. 11. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,158 residents deaths and 165 staff deaths.
According to the state dashboard with just 50% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 20,091 and new staff cases 8,308 in the last week as of Jan. 2. Cumulatively, 360,698 cases have been reported— 71,029 students and 21,014 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 84.7% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 90.8%, followed by Warren at 88.9%, Morris at 87.9%, Sussex at 86.7%, Passaic at 85.9%, Essex at 82.0%, and Hudson at 77.6%, tied for the lowest county in the state.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Jan. 11, the state has tracked 388 school outbreaks and 2,255 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up four outbreaks and 28 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 48 confirmed outbreaks with 264 cases, Morris County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 190 cases, Passaic County has 19 confirmed outbreaks with 170 cases, Sussex has 29 confirmed outbreaks with 156 cases, Essex County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 119 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 13,168,880 in-state, plus an additional 520,950 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,689,830 as of Jan. 11.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,270,899 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 211,799 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,482,698 A total of 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in New Jersey and 88% have received at least one dose.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,298,637 for Pfizer and 1,095,816 for Moderna. A total of 51,696 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,446,149 have received a booster or third shot. Overall, 46% of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 689,098 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 554,390, Hudson 495,713, Morris 371,616, Passaic 336,993, Sussex 89,297, and Warren 58,044.