New Jersey reported another 2,800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 15 additional confirmed deaths Sunday as the state prepares to expand those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and increase indoor limits at several types of businesses.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the latest update on Twitter. More than 2.95 million vaccine doses have been administered as of Sunday morning, including 969,926 who have received both doses and are considered fully-vaccinated.
Eligibility for vaccines will expand beginning March 15 to include transportation workers, public safety personnel, members of tribal communities, migrant farmworkers and those who are homeless. Teachers became eligible earlier this month.
Restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, personal care services and amusement venues will be allowed to increase their capacity to 50% beginning March 19, after being raised to 35% in early February.
The statewide rate of transmission remained at 1.02. Any number over 1 indicates that the outbreak is growing, with each new case leading to at least one other case. The rate had been below 1 for weeks before pushing above that mark last week.
New Jersey’s hospitals reported 1,807 patients as of Saturday night. That’s down by more than half since a recent peak on Dec. 22.
In all, New Jersey has now reported 742,051 confirmed coronavirus cases out of more than 11 million PCR tests in the year since the state reported its first case on March 4, 2020. There have also been 95,974 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 23,903 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19, including 21,429 confirmed deaths and 2,474 fatalities considered probable.
Health officials also reported Wednesday the first case of the coronavirus variant initially identified in South Africa.
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There were 1,807 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases at New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Saturday night — 48 fewer than the previous night, according to the state’s dashboard.
That included 392 in critical or intensive care (10 fewer than the previous night), with 233 on ventilators (10 fewer).
There were also 256 COVID-19 patients discharged Saturday.
Hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,000 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April.
New Jersey has reported 173 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 804 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.
With teachers now eligible to get the vaccine, Murphy said on Monday that 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, if not sooner.
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 (23.1%), 18-29 (19.6%), 65-79 (10.7%), 5-17 (8.7%), 80 and older (4.9%) and 0-4 (1.8%).
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 (47.16%), followed by those 65-79 (32.77%), 50-64 (15.63%), 30-49 (4.05%), 18-29 (0.37%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).
At least 7,950 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 active outbreaks at 261 facilities, resulting in 4,987 active cases among residents and 5,298 among staffers.
As of Sunday, there have been more than 119.6 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 2.65 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 29.4 million, and the most deaths, at more than 534,300.
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Katie Kausch may be reached at [email protected]. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.