Statewide coronavirus hospitalizations in New Jersey have fallen below 2,000 for the first time in slightly more than a month as officials on Thursday reported another 2,895 confirmed cases and an additional 31 confirmed deaths in the state.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the update during an unrelated event in Iselin and once again expressed cautious optimism the third wave of the pandemic may be starting to wane in the Garden State.
“I think we’re winning this one,” Murphy said during a radio interview Thursday afternoon on WCBS 880-AM. “And it’ll be slower than maybe we’d like, but we’re gonna get there.”
Murphy also reiterated he will have information next week on another round of reopening steps over the coming weeks, though he declined to provide more detail. He has said any steps would be incremental.
”We’re going through a fairly significant list of moves here,” he told reporters after Thursday’s event. “We just need to make sure our health numbers continue to go in the right direction. Hospitalizations going below 2,000 today is a very good, positive milestone.”
Still, Murphy also warned the state is “beginning to see” hesitancy among residents cause demand for the vaccine to slow. He said the state is brainstorming ways to “proactively reach” into communities to drum up support for the vaccine — including possibly using mobile units, public service announcements, working with businesses, and “maybe knocking on your door.”
New Jersey’s COVID-19 hospitalizations fell for the first time in three days, with 1,997 patients across the state’s 71 hospitals as of Wednesday night. That marks the first time since March 21 that there have been fewer than 2,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients statewide.
The state’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive tests is now 2,888, down 5% from a week ago and 14% from a month ago.
More than 2.63 million people have been fully vaccinated in the state as of Thursday — about 38% of the state’s 6.9 million adult residents. The state’s goal is to fully vaccinate 70% of its eligible adult population — about 4.7 million people — by the end of June.
Murphy said Thursday he still believes “with a fairly high degree of confidence” that the state will reach that mark even though some vaccine centers have reported dwindling demand.
But the governor added the state is hitting a critical point because the first shots need to be into arms by the end of May for that to happen with the pair of two-dose vaccines currently available.
”We are at the point we knew we would get to, and I think it’s this week — ironically, because this is the week we opened it up for everybody — where we knew we would have to take a series of proactive steps to reach into communities,” Murphy said. “It’s here and now.”
In all, more than 6.31 million vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, with more than 3.92 million people receiving at least one dose.
The state’s rate of transmission remained at 0.93 on Thursday, the same as the day before. The rate had dropped steadily in recent weeks after reaching 1.07 on April 5. Any number over 1 indicates that the outbreak is growing, with each new case leading to at least one other case. A declining transmission rate means the spread is slowing.
The statewide positivity rate for tests conducted on Sunday, the most recent day available, was 10.33%. Positive tests rates tend to be higher on the weekends when fewer tests are conducted. The percent positivity on weekdays last week ranged between 7.5% and 8.5%.
In all, New Jersey has now reported 868,541 confirmed coronavirus cases out of nearly 13.1 million PCR tests in the nearly 14 months since the state reported its first case on March 4, 2020. There have also been 122,039 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 25,301 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 — including 22,691 confirmed deaths and 2,611 fatalities considered probable. The probable deaths, which are revised weekly, increased Wednesday by 19 fatalities.
New Jersey has the most coronavirus deaths per capita among American states.
Dr. Edward Lifshitz, director of the state Department of Health’s communicable disease service, said Wednesday there’s no magic percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to get to herd immunity.
“The higher your overall immunity gets in the population, the more you can expect to see numbers drop,” Lifshitz said. “But there’s not going to be one exact number where we get to 50%, 52%, or 70% where you can say, ‘That’s it, we’re not going to be seeing anymore transmission.’”
Still, Lifshitz noted that the state has begun to see cases drop dramatically among the state’s oldest population, which was among the first to become eligible for the vaccine.
So far, 83% of people 65 to 79 in New Jersey have received at least one vaccine dose in New Jersey, followed by 76% of those 80 and older, 62% of those 50 to 64, 46% of those 30 to 49, 27% of those 16 to 29.
- ATLANTIC COUNTY – 197,404 doses administered
- BERGEN COUNTY – 704,603 doses administered
- BURLINGTON COUNTY – 332,512 doses administered
- CAMDEN COUNTY – 366,758 doses administered
- CAPE MAY COUNTY – 79,365 doses administered
- CUMBERLAND COUNTY – 85,722 doses administered
- ESSEX COUNTY – 493,769 doses administered
- GLOUCESTER COUNTY – 221,986 doses administered
- HUDSON COUNTY – 390,382 doses administered
- HUNTERDON COUNTY – 90,959 doses administered
- MERCER COUNTY – 249,988 doses administered
- MIDDLESEX COUNTY – 561,295 doses administered
- MONMOUTH COUNTY – 461,877 doses administered
- MORRIS COUNTY – 439,142 doses administered
- OCEAN COUNTY – 371,646 doses administered
- PASSAIC COUNTY – 296,292 doses administered
- SALEM COUNTY – 38,898 doses administered
- SOMERSET COUNTY – 260,836 doses administered
- SUSSEX COUNTY – 97,321 doses administered
- UNION COUNTY – 352,383 doses administered
- WARREN COUNTY – 62,133 doses administered
- UNKNOWN COUNTY – 3,515 doses administered
- OUT OF STATE – 151,279 doses administered
There were 1,997 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Wednesday night — 117 fewer than the previous night, according to state data.
That included 457 in critical or intensive care (two more than the night before), with 245 on ventilators (three fewer).
There were also 288 COVID-19 patients discharged Wednesday, while 219 were admitted.
By comparison, hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,300 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April and more than 3,800 during the second wave in December.
New Jersey has reported 254 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 1,125 cases among students, teachers and school staff this academic year, according to state data.
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 has said New Jersey’s schools are expected to return to full in-person classes for the next school year.
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (30.9%), followed by those 50-64 (22.7%), 18-29 (19.9%), 65-79 (10.2%), 5-17 (9.7%), 80 and older (4.4%) and 0-4 (2%).
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 (46.66%), followed by those 65-79 (32.91%), 50-64 (15.95%), 30-49 (4.06%), 18-29 (0.39%), 5-17 (0.01%) and 0-4 (0.03%).
At least 8,020 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data.
There are active outbreaks at 234 facilities, resulting in 2,836 active cases among residents and 3,675 among staffers. Those numbers have slowed as vaccinations continue at the facilities.
As of early Thursday afternoon, there have been more than 144.1 million positive COVID-19 tests across the globe, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.06 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 31.87 million, and the most deaths, at more than 569,500.