New Jersey on Monday reported another 2,668 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 21 additional deaths as Gov. Phil Murphy announced the state will greatly expand who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine over the next four weeks.
Pre-K through 12th grade teachers, as well as child-care and transportation workers, will become eligible March 15 and front-line essential employees, including restaurant workers and grocery store employees, will become eligible two weeks later, on March 29.
“Given the expectations of increased weekly shipments of vaccines as the month progresses, and especially as we head into April, we are confident in announcing this broadening of eligibilities now so that those who fall into these categories can know when they can step up to the plate,” Murphy said during his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton.
The expansion will cover “many, many” hundreds of thousands of people, the governor said, even though demand for the vaccine continues to outpace supply.
The announcement came the same day the state allowed large indoor sports and entertainment venues to welcome back fans at 10% capacity and large outdoor venues with fixed seats to have spectators at 15% capacity.
The state this weekend surpassed two million COVID-19 vaccine shots, with a total of 2,039,427 doses having been administered as of Monday morning. That includes 1.35 million first doses and 690,000 second doses.
The total number of shots is out of more than 2.5 million doses the state has received, according to a running tally by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of its adult population — about 4.7 million people — within the next few months.
The state’s rollout has faced criticism so far, with people scrambling for scarce appointments in a labyrinth online system and officials complaining that supply from the federal government has been slow. But Murphy said the state administered its second million doses in three weeks, showing “clear progress.”
He also said the state’s vaccination efforts will get a boost when the state this week begins getting shipments of the one-dose coronavirus vaccine produced by New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson, which the federal government approved Sunday. New Jersey is slated to receive about 73,000 doses in its first batch, with a similar amount arriving in subsequent weeks. That’s on top of the state’s weekly allotment of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Despite the new vaccine and increased eligibility, officials stressed that demand will continue to outpace supply in the coming weeks, so booking appointments may still be a challenge. But Murphy said he made Monday’s announcement because “folks deserved to know when they will be eligible.”
So far, 88% of people who got one vaccine shot in New Jersey have returned for their second dose, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
The Garden State’s seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases is now 2,841, up 5% from a week ago, and down 31% from a month ago.
Two days after dropping below 2,000 for the first time since November, the number of coronavirus patients at New Jersey’s hospitals increased slightly Sunday night to 1,865. Still, that’s down 52% from a recent peak of 3,872 on Dec. 22.
The latest statewide rate of transmission increased to 0.94, up from 0.91 the day before. Any rate below 1 means the outbreak is slowing, though the number has been creeping up in recent days.
The statewide positivity rate for tests conducted on Thursday, the most recent day available, was 6.44% based on 44,835 tests.
Dr. Edward Lifshitz, director of the state Department of Health’s communicable disease service, said Monday that cases have begun to “level out” in recent days, despite not dropping as rapidly as they were a few weeks ago.
Persichilli also warned that cases and hospitalizations may “creep up a bit” in New Jersey in the coming days because of COVID-19 variants that have emerged. But the health commissioner said focusing vaccinations on older residents and communities of color will help.
So far, only one variant has been found in New Jersey — the B117 strain first discovered in the United Kingdom. The state has reported 63 cases of that strain.
New Jersey has now reported 704,362 confirmed coronavirus cases out of more than 10.5 million PCR tests in nearly one year since the state reported its first case March 4, 2020. There have also been 88,134 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 reported 23,273 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19, including 20,942 confirmed deaths and 2,331 fatalities considered probable. That includes 1,589 confirmed coronavirus deaths reported in February.
- ATLANTIC COUNTY – 61,977 doses administered
- BERGEN COUNTY – 232,962 doses administered
- BURLINGTON COUNTY – 102,489 doses administered
- CAMDEN COUNTY – 115,754 doses administered
- CAPE MAY COUNTY – 29,408 doses administered
- CUMBERLAND COUNTY – 27,162 doses administered
- ESSEX COUNTY – 161,702 doses administered
- GLOUCESTER COUNTY – 70,754 doses administered
- HUDSON COUNTY – 93,755 doses administered
- HUNTERDON COUNTY – 26,302 doses administered
- MERCER COUNTY – 58,268 doses administered
- MIDDLESEX COUNTY – 158,571 doses administered
- MONMOUTH COUNTY – 149,350 doses administered
- MORRIS COUNTY – 152,926 doses administered
- OCEAN COUNTY – 122,415 doses administered
- PASSAIC COUNTY – 92,078 doses administered
- SALEM COUNTY – 12,818 doses administered
- SOMERSET COUNTY – 77,651 doses administered
- SUSSEX COUNTY – 30,559 doses administered
- UNION COUNTY – 98,196 doses administered
- WARREN COUNTY – 18,600 doses administered
- UNKNOWN COUNTY – 87,765 doses administered
- OUT OF STATE – 57,965 doses administered
COUNTY-BY-COUNTY NUMBERS (sorted by most new cases)
- Bergen County: 69,169 confirmed cases (319 new), 2,338 confirmed deaths (281 probable)
- Hudson County: 63,868 confirmed cases (254 new), 1,827 confirmed deaths (180 probable)
- Essex County: 67,690 confirmed cases (253 new), 2,409 confirmed deaths (269 probable)
- Monmouth County: 51,799 confirmed cases (249 new), 1,284 confirmed deaths (122 probable)
- Middlesex County: 67,818 confirmed cases (205 new), 1,868 confirmed deaths (229 probable)
- Ocean County: 52,129 confirmed cases (173 new), 1,741 confirmed deaths (117 probable)
- Union County: 49,198 confirmed cases (159 new), 1,569 confirmed deaths (197 probable)
- Morris County: 32,256 confirmed cases (143 new), 895 confirmed deaths (227 probable)
- Camden County: 39,555 confirmed cases (133 new), 1,068 confirmed deaths (84 probable)
- Passaic County: 52,170 confirmed cases (123 new), 1,518 confirmed deaths (173 probable)
- Burlington County: 30,993 confirmed cases (101 new), 691 confirmed deaths (54 probable)
- Mercer County: 26,242 confirmed cases (90 new), 838 confirmed deaths (39 probable)
- Somerset County: 18,747 confirmed cases (86 new), 681 confirmed deaths (102 probable)
- Gloucester County: 21,131 confirmed cases (85 new), 513 confirmed deaths (28 probable)
- Atlantic County: 19,796 confirmed cases (66 new), 542 confirmed deaths (27 probable)
- Cumberland County: 12,204 confirmed cases (59 new), 343 confirmed deaths (27 probable)
- Sussex County: 7,991 confirmed cases (44 new), 209 confirmed deaths (64 probable)
- Warren County: 6,372 confirmed cases (36 new), 197 confirmed deaths (19 probable)
- Hunterdon County: 6,324 confirmed cases (23 new), 105 confirmed deaths (54 probable)
- Cape May County: 3,718 confirmed cases (19 new), 154 confirmed deaths (26 probable)
- Salem County: 4,251 confirmed cases (19 new), 152 confirmed deaths (12 probable)
There were 1,865 patients hospitalized with confirmed (1,729) or suspected COVID-19 cases across 70 of New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Sunday night — eight more than the previous night, according to the state’s dashboard.
That included 387 in critical or intensive care (nine fewer than the previous night), with 226 on ventilators (four fewer).
There were also 178 COVID-19 patients discharged Sunday, while 203 patients were admitted.
Hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,000 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April.
New Jersey has reported 152 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 737 cases among students, teachers and school staff this academic year, according to the state’s dashboard.
The state 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.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.
There are about 1.4 million public school students and teachers across the state, though teaching methods amid the outbreak have varied, with some schools teaching in-person, some using a hybrid format and others remaining all-remote.
Murphy said Monday that with teachers soon eligible to get the vaccine, officials are “fully expecting” schools across New Jersey to return for in-person learning “safely and responsibly” when the next school year starts in September at the latest.
“I would be very surprised and disappointed if we are not,” he said.
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 (10.9%), 5-17 (8.4%), 80 and older (5%), 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 (47.25%), followed by those 65-79 (32.76%), 50-64 (15.58%), 30-49 (4.02%), 18-29 (0.37%), 5-17 (0%), and 0-4 (0.02%).
At least 7,911 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 337 facilities, resulting in 6,329 active cases among residents and 6,471 among staffers.
As of early Monday afternoon, there have been more than 114 million positive COVID-19 tests across the globe, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 2.5 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 28.6 million, and the most deaths, at more than 513,000.