New Jersey on Saturday reported another 2,671 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 51 additional deaths, a day after Gov. Phil Murphy warned residents that nationwide shipping delays due to winter weather will cause vaccine appointments to be pushed back.
The Garden State has administered 1,605,744 vaccine doses as of Saturday afternoon, including 1,121,437 first doses and 483,991 second doses, Murphy posted on Twitter. That’s out of 1.8 million doses the state has received, according to a running tally by the federal Centers for Disease Control.
But three of New Jersey’s mega-sites were forced to close and two others shut down early on Thursday as another winter storm blanketed the state with snow.
The storms caused planes at major hubs for both FedEx and UPS to be grounded, causing delays of coronavirus vaccine shipments, Murphy said Friday. About 230,000 doses New Jersey was expected to receive Monday — including both first and second doses — have not yet arrived, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
Murphy said the state has told vaccination sites to “prepare to ramp up operations and extend hours” to make up for the delay. Persichilli said the state expects some first Pfizer doses to arrive at mega-sites Saturday.
The number of coronavirus patients in New Jersey’s hospitals fell for the 17th straight day, dropping to 2,145 as of Friday night. That’s down more than 44% from a recent peak of 3,872 on Dec. 22 and the fewest number of patients since Nov. 14.
The latest statewide rate of transmission dropped to 0.89, after three days at 0.91. When the rate is below 1, that indicates the state’s outbreak is slowing. The rate recently rose for six straight days after weeks of steadily declining.
The positivity rate for tests conducted on Monday, the most recent day available, was 7.58% based on 43,848 tests.
New Jersey has now reported 680,937 confirmed coronavirus cases out of more than 10.2 million PCR tests in the more than 11 months since the state reported its first case March 4, 2020. There have also been 83,437 positive antigen tests. Those cases are considered probable, and health officials have warned that positive antigen tests could overlap with the confirmed PCR tests because they are sometimes given in tandem.
The state of 9 million people has also reported 22,834 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 — including 20,545 confirmed fatalities and 2,289 considered probable. The state has reported 1,206 confirmed coronavirus deaths in February.
On Friday, Murphy said that as the outbreak numbers continue to improve, state officials are discussing potentially reopening the state further from coronavirus restrictions but repeated that uncertainty surrounding more contagious variants of the illness is holding up those plans.
Only one COVID-19 variant has been discovered in New Jersey — the one that emerged in the United Kingdom, officials have said. So far, the state has recorded 50 cases of that variant. Health officials say vaccines appear to be effective against the variant, but the strain is more contagious than the typical coronavirus strain.
There were 2,145 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Friday night — 57 fewer than the previous night.
That included 454 in critical or intensive care (11 more than the previous night), with 290 on ventilators (10 fewer).
There were also 214 COVID-19 patients discharged Friday, according to the state’s dashboard.
New Jersey has reported 144 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 686 cases among students, teachers, and school staff this academic year, according to the state’s dashboard.
Outbreaks — defined as cases in which people were confirmed to have caught or transmitted the virus in the classroom or during academic activities — have been reported in all 21 counties, according to the state’s 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.
There are about 1.4 million students and teachers across the state, though teaching methods amid the outbreak have varied, some are in-person, some are hybrid and others are all-remote.
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%), followed by those 50-64 (23.3%), 18-29 (19.5%), 65-79 (11%), 5-17 (8.3%), 80 and older (5.1%), and 0-4 (1.7%).
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 (46.8%), followed by those 65-79 (33.3%), 50-64 (15.6%), 30-49 (3.9%), 18-29 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%), and 0-4 (0%).
At least 7,873 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
There are currently active outbreaks at 379 facilities, resulting in 6,899 active cases among residents and 7,021 among staffers.
As of Saturday morning, there have been 110.8 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 2.45 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 28 million, and the most deaths, at more than 495,800.