‘Unrelenting’ virus makes N.J. another hotspot

The Garden State ranks third in the nation for hospitalizations per capita and seventh nationwide for COVID-19 deaths per capita, officials said Wednesday.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli reminded residents that even though the state is vaccinating thousands of people per day, the virus has not been eradicated.

“Despite the increasing number of vaccinations, we must remain vigilant,” Persichill said. “The statistics demonstrate that this virus is unrelenting, and we are still in the midst of this battle.”

State statistical projections shown during a Wednesday press conference predicted a peak in new cases on April 18 in a best or moderate scenario. In a worst case, New Jersey could see more than 8,000 cases per day by mid-May.

Health officials said people could change the projections by adhering to public health measures, but they also suggested cases could decline slowly after the next peak, which means the numbers could remain high for a while.

Gov. Phil Murphy said that was why New Jersey continues to enforce its statewide mask mandate.

“It is also a reason why we moved up our vaccine eligibility time frame aggressively, so we can now have more people into the ranks of the fully vaccinated in a shorter amount of time,” he added.

Starting April 19, anyone over 16 who lives, works, or studies in New Jersey will be able to make a vaccine appointment.

New Jersey has fully vaccinated about 40% of the 4.7 million people it hopes to inoculate against COVID-19 to reach herd immunity.

Persichilli also said the state’s hospitals are seeing more young people with COVID-19 requiring medical care, a change from earlier in the pandemic.

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