The highly transmissible omicron subvariant BA.5 is fueling a new wave of infections, re-infections and hospitalizations across the country and in New Jersey.
The Biden Administration on July 12 outlined its strategy to combat the subvariant this Summer, which experts are finding is able to evade vaccines, as well as immune system defenses built up through prior infection.
Dr. Ashish K. Jha, President Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said the administration has been planning for just such a moment. Dr. Jha said the best way Americans can protect themselves is by getting vaccinated or boosted, seeking out therapeutics and wearing masks to minimize the spread of the virus.
Staying out of Hospitals
“We can prevent serious illness,” he said. “We can keep people out of the hospital and especially out of the ICU. We can save lives and we can minimize the disruptions caused by COVID-19. And even in the face of BA5, the tools we have continue to work.”
Officials stressed that hospilizations continue to be lower than at the height of recent surges due to vaccines and therapeutics. A White House fact sheet said the administration would continue to advise Americans, particularly those age 50 and older and those who are vulnerable, to get booster shots; to test if they show symptoms; and to seek out therapies, including Paxlovid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death, if they get sick.
Wider Booster Shot
The Biden Administration is reportedly considering whether to expand second coronavirus booster shots to adults under 50 in an effort to counter the latest, highly contagious variant. The administration decided in March to offer second booster doses to everyone 50 or older, along with some younger individuals who have immune deficiencies.
COVID-19 levels are high in a fifth of U.S. counties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s metric based on case and hospital data, a share that has been mostly rising since mid-April. The agency estimates BA.5 represents more than half of recent U.S. cases that are averaging just more than 100,000 a day.
Six counties in New Jersey are currently classified as having high levels of COVID-19—Monmouth, Morris, Burlington, Camden, Atlantic, and Cape May. The classification triggers a mask wearing recommendation by the CDC, but no new mandates in the Garden State.
Some virus experts believe the true number of infections may be roughly six times as high as many people are using at-home tests that state health departments largely don’t track.
The state in May presented two models for COVID this Summer, with the moderate model being more accurate so far. This model forecasted that a post Memorial Day surge to result in a single day high of 3,400 new COVID-19 cases as of June 9. Daily cases would then decline with another surge hitting a high of 3,300 new cases July 25. The modeling end on August 11 with 3,000 new daily cases.
The High model projected daily cases would have reach a surge of 7,050 on June 18. After a decline for about a month, a rapid increase will reach its crescendo of approximately 7,750 cases July 17 before beginning a steady decline again.
The moderate model had hospitalizations peaking at just over 1,000 while the high model had it nearing 2,000. Intensive care and ventilator cases would remain under 200 for the entirety of the time period for both (closer to 100 in the Moderate model) with a slight upticks in mid July.
New daily PCR cases (for July 12): 1,548; Probable Cases: 418
Total Cases: 2,522,649 (2,155,538 PCR cases, 367,111 probable cases)
New Confirmed Deaths: 1 (7 probable deaths, 34,112 total deaths)
Rate of Transmission: 1.02 for a second day in a row
Percent Positivity: 11.5% as of July 6; by region, the rate was 12.7% in the North, 10.5% in the Central region and 10.6% in the South
Bergen County: 141 New Cases, 28 Probable Cases, 3,180 deaths, 335 probable deaths
Essex County: 171 New Cases, 25 Probable Cases, 3,325 deaths, 313 probable deaths
Hudson County: 139 New Cases, 21 Probable Cases, 2,525 total deaths, 221 probable deaths
Morris County: 105 New Cases, 27 Probable Cases, 1,274 deaths, 306 probable deaths
Passaic County: 89 New Cases, 23 Probable Cases, 2,156 deaths, 204 probable deaths
Sussex County: 20 New Cases, 5 Probable Cases, 403 deaths, 98 probable deaths
Warren County: 21 New Cases, 5 Probable Cases, 319 deaths, 27 probable deaths
Hospitalizations: 919 (387 North, 262 Central and 270 South)
Patients in intensive care units: 104
Patients on ventilators: 34
Patients discharged: 143
The state dashboard showed all 71 hospitals in the state reporting
Long-term Care Facilities
Facilities currently reporting one case: 351 (2,905 overall)
Current number of residents: 4,591 (52,256 overall)
Current number of staffers: 4,594 (42,089 overall)
Number of Deaths: 9,344 overall (8,658 reported by facilities,142 staff deaths)
Total number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey: 14,601,861 (14,097,244 in-state, plus an additional 504,197 administered out-of-state)
Fully Vaccinated: 6,953,928 (6,749,861 in state and another 204,067 out of state). By county, 734,330 in Bergen County, 605,184 in Essex, 539,270 in Hudson, 392,367 in Morris, 365,679 in Passaic, 94,100 in Sussex, and 61,966 in Warren.
Booster Shots: 4,057,547 (2,236,883 Pfizer, 1,747,531 Moderna and 73,133 Johnson & Johnson)