New Jersey health officials on Tuesday reported 5,400 new positive tests for the coronavirus and another 138 confirmed deaths — the most in a single day since May — as the state opened an online portal to allow residents to register for COVID-19 vaccinations for the first time
Gov. Phil Murphy provided the latest update on the outbreak during an unrelated event on NJ Transit in Middlesex County.
“It will get better, there’s no question about it,” Murphy said, noting the rollout of vaccines, which are currently only available to health care workers and those in long-term care facilities. “It’s gonna be a while until we’re out of the woods.”
New Jersey’s hospitals reported 3,702 patients as of Monday, the third day of increases as health officials closely monitor the potential rise in infections following the holidays. That’s still far below the more than 8,000 patients being treated at the peak of the initial wave.
“We can not allow our hospitals to become overwhelmed,” Murphy said. “That’s the number we watch like a hawk.”
The state has now recorded 499,636 positive PCR tests since the outbreak began 10 months ago. The state just began reporting rapid antigen test results on Monday and calling them “probable” cases. That total rose to 51,783 on Tuesday.
The positivity rate for tests conducted on New Year’s Day was more than 15%, Murphy said. He did not disclose how many tests were conducted on the holiday, when people were less likely to seek tests.
The statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission remains below 1 at 0.94, Murphy said. That’s slightly higher than on Monday, when it was 0.92 for the second straight day. Any transmission rate over 1 means each person who gets COVID-19 is spreading the virus to more than one person, and keeping the rate below 1 is key to suppressing the pandemic, officials have said.
Officials say the transmission rate had dropped below 1 because cases aren’t increasing at the same pace they were during the first wave in the spring, when the state was still learning how to fight the virus.
The state of 9 million residents has now reported 19,382 COVID-19 deaths – 17,361 confirmed and 2,021 probable fatalities from complications related to the virus.
COUNTY-BY-COUNTY NUMBERS (sorted by most new cases)
- Middlesex County: 47,095 total confirmed cases (546 new confirmed cases), 1,490 confirmed deaths (219 probable)
- Hudson County: 45,852 total confirmed cases (469 new confirmed cases), 1,553 confirmed deaths (168 probable)
- Bergen County: 48,953 total confirmed cases (459 new confirmed cases), 2,082 confirmed deaths (263 probable)
- Monmouth County: 33,778 total confirmed cases (449 new confirmed cases), 967 confirmed deaths (103 probable)
- Ocean County: 34,379 total confirmed cases (435 new confirmed cases), 1,327 confirmed deaths (82 probable)
- Burlington County: 22,484 total confirmed cases (382 new confirmed cases), 586 confirmed deaths (51 probable)
- Essex County: 48,879 total confirmed cases (364 new confirmed cases), 2,160 confirmed deaths (250 probable)
- Camden County: 29,924 total confirmed cases (316 new confirmed cases), 780 confirmed deaths (65 probable)
- Passaic County: 41,023 total confirmed cases (309 new confirmed cases), 1,317 confirmed deaths (157 probable)
- Union County: 37,635 total confirmed cases (259 new confirmed cases), 1,388 confirmed deaths (181 probable)
- Morris County: 21,255 total confirmed cases (251 new confirmed cases), 791 confirmed deaths (178 probable)
- Mercer County: 19,519 total confirmed cases (231 new confirmed cases), 698 confirmed deaths (40 probable)
- Gloucester County: 14,918 total confirmed cases (223 new confirmed cases), 388 confirmed deaths (17 probable)
- Atlantic County: 12,921 total confirmed cases (164 new confirmed cases), 362 confirmed deaths (17 probable)
- Cumberland County: 8,280 total confirmed cases (132 new confirmed cases), 225 confirmed deaths (10 probable)
- Somerset County: 13,189 total confirmed cases (116 new confirmed cases), 585 confirmed deaths (88 probable)
- Hunterdon County: 3,981 total confirmed cases (64 new confirmed cases), 86 confirmed deaths (54 probable)
- Warren County: 4,163 total confirmed cases (62 new confirmed cases), 170 confirmed deaths (13 probable)
- Sussex County: 4,825 total confirmed cases (60 new confirmed cases), 176 confirmed deaths (43 probable)
- Salem County: 2,963 total confirmed cases (58 new confirmed cases), 107 confirmed deaths (7 probable)
- Cape May County: 2,502 total confirmed cases (26 new confirmed cases), 123 confirmed deaths (15 probable)
Health officials have administered the first doses of two-dose COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 101,417 people, officials said Monday. Some healthcare workers began to receive their second doses Monday.
Officials hope to vaccinate 70% of New Jersey adult residents — about 4.7 million people — in the next six months. The state is rolling out the vaccine in phases, with healthcare workers and people who live in congregant settings like nursing homes and prisons in the first phase. Officials have said doses should be available for the general public by April or May.
There were 3,702 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases as of Monday night, 69 more than the previous night.
That included 679 in critical or intensive care (15 more than the previous night), with 481 on ventilators (five more than the previous evening).
There were 271 COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals while 365 people were admitted, according to Murphy.
There have been 108 in-school coronavirus outbreaks in New Jersey involving 546 students, teachers and staff since the school year began in late August, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Those numbers do not include students or staff believed to have been infected outside school or cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks. Though the numbers keep rising every week, Murphy has said the school outbreak statistics remain below what state officials were expecting when schools reopened for in-person classes.
New Jersey defines school outbreaks as cases where contact tracers determined two or more students or school staff caught or transmitted COVID-19 in the classroom or during academic activities at school.
The number of New Jersey school districts with all-remote learning has increased as students return from winter break, Murphy said on Monday.
There are 339 districts starting 2021 remotely — an increase of 18 all-remote districts from Dec. 21. Meanwhile, only 77 school districts are returning with full in-person instruction (down from 82 on Dec. 21), and 348 are returning with a hybrid of in-person or remote instruction (down from 362).
Another 47 districts are using some combination of in-person, hybrid, or all-remote across multiple buildings — one more than Dec. 21.
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.4%), followed by those 50-64 (23.9%), 18-29 (19.1%), 65-79 (11.2%), 80 and older (5.7%), 5-17 (7.1%), and 0-4 (1.5%).
On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with preexisting conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (47.48%), followed by those 65-79 (32.14%), 50-64 (15.78%), 30-49 (4.19%), 18-29 (0.37%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).
As of Tuesday morning, there were more than 85.8 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.85 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 20.82 million, and the most deaths, at more than 353,600.