Gov. Phil Murphy is warning that new COVID cases will increase in New Jersey in the near future but not to a level that will trigger a return to statewide mandates.
In a press statement released March 17 with New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, they stated “we are closely watching the recent rise in global COVID numbers and, given both previous trends with regard to spread and our location as an international nexus for travel and trade, we do anticipate that we will eventually see an increase in the number of cases in New Jersey.
“However, at this time, we do not anticipate any need to reinstate universal statewide mandated protective measures.”
The increase in cases worldwide is being linked to the BA.2 variant. This variant made up 39% of COVID strains in New Jersey and New York for the week ending on March 12 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rising from 17.3% the prior week.
Murphy and other state health officials in the past have noted the pattern of cases rising in Europe were harribengers for the Garden State. The Omicron variant this month began its second sweep through Europe, with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy seeing an upswing last week.
Cases per capita in Europe were already far higher than any other region in the world when they began creeping up again earlier this month. The continent is now recording 95 cases per 100,000 people, after bottoming out at 87 on March 3; the United States and Canada, by comparison, are recording 10 cases per 100,000 people.
Besides Europe, news cases in Asia have raised concerns. China recently locked down the city of Changchun, closed schools in Shanghai and urged the public not to leave Beijing. Hong Kong has seen its worst spike in recent weeks after limiting COVID’s spread for almost two years, reporting more than 700,000 COVID-19 infections and about 4,200 deaths, most of them in the past three weeks.
As for New Jersey, Murphy expressed optimism that the state’s health care infrastructure will remains strong as the Garden State continues “to be among the nation’s most-vaccinated states.” He encouraged residents to stay up to date with vaccinations and boosters, get tested when exposed or sick, and for those who are immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk are encouraged to follow the guidance of their health care provider and the CDC.
Managing An Endemic
After reaching a peak of 33,459 new daily cases on Jan. 7 and 6,089 hospitalizations on Jan. 11, the state reported March 18 of 1,005 new cases and 409 hospitalized at the 70 of 71 hospitals reporting.
The statement was released 10 days after the governor ended a school mask mandate across the state and ordered an end to the public health emergency the state had been under since March 2020. Murphy said the moves were made as it was time endemic stage of the virus.
The governor ended by stating “We are not going to manage COVID to zero nor are we impervious to the virus. We expect COVID to continue to mutate and cases to continue to ebb and flow. Moving to an endemic status still means we must all take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
Latest COVID-19 numbers in New Jersey as of March 18 from the New Jersey Department of Health:
New daily PCR cases: 1,005; Probable Cases: 288
Total Cases: 2,186,846 (1,888,440 PCR cases, 298,406 probable cases)
New Confirmed Deaths: 9 (5 probable deaths, 33,155 total deaths)
Rate of Transmission: 0.84, for a second day in a row
Percent Positivity: 3.7% as of March 13; by region, the rate was 3.9% in the North, 4.0% in the Central region and 2.9% in the South
Bergen County: 150 New Cases, 60 Probable Cases, 3,097 deaths, 321 probable deaths
Essex County: 99 New Cases, 28 Probable Cases, 3,277 deaths, 311 probable deaths
Hudson County: 186 New Cases, 23 Probable Cases, 2,489 total deaths, 221 probable deaths
Morris County: 65 New Cases, 27 Probable Cases, 1,225 deaths, 297 probable deaths
Passaic County: 44 New Cases, 19 Probable Cases, 2,125 deaths, 200 probable deaths
Sussex County: 5 New Cases, 7 Probable Case, 381 deaths, 88 probable deaths
Warren County: 13 New Cases, 2 Probable Cases, 313 deaths, 27 probable deaths
Hospitalizations: 409 (149 North, 144 Central and 116 South)
Patients in intensive care units: 84
Patients on ventilators: 51
Patients discharged: 80
The state dashboard showed 70 of 71 hospitals in the state reporting
Long-term Care Facilities
Facilities currently reporting one case: 222 (2,388 overall)
Current number of residents: 6,073 (47,279 overall)
Current number of staffers: 6,789 (38,224 overall)
Number of Deaths: 9,364 overall (8,524 reported by facilities, 149 staff deaths)
Total number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey: 14,363,013 (13,796,234 in-state, plus an additional 566,779 administered out-of-state)
Fully Vaccinated: 6,800,438 (6,574,258 in state and another 226,180 out of state) By county, 718,378 in Bergen County, 588,746 in Essex, 525,720 in Hudson, 384,717 in Morris, 357,741 in Passaic, 92,362 in Sussex, and 60,278 in Warren.
Booster Shots: 3,182,247 (1,755,170 Pfizer, 1,360,080 Moderna and 66,997 Johnson & Johnson)