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One of the earliest and worst-hit states to battle Covid-19, New Jersey is once again seeing a surge of new coronavirus infections that is not expected to substantially decrease before the end of July, according to new predictive models released Wednesday, despite the race to vaccinate residents against the surge.
New Jersey’s cases are increasing and it is now recording the second-highest number of new Covid-19 cases per capita in the country after Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 352.4 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days and 4,586 new positive PCR Covid-19 tests recorded Wednesday.
A “moderate” model released by the state found both Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations will peak on April 18 with 5,445 daily cases.
New daily cases will not drop below 3,000 until mid-June, the model projects, and the state will still record more than 2,000 daily cases even at the end of July.
The model takes into account past trends seen after holidays and an increase in indoor activities, as well as increased vaccinations, assuming 70% of residents will be vaccinated by June 1 and the shots will be 95% effective against coronavirus variants.
A “high” model found the state would peak at approximately 8,000 daily cases in both mid-May and mid-June, and would still be recording more than 6,000 cases per day by the end of July.
That model assumes a higher rate of hospitalizations than in the past, that people will “lower their guard” and have more social gatherings, and that vaccines are only 65% effective against variants, with 70% of residents vaccinated by June 15.
What To Watch For
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy noted Wednesday the predictive models vary day by day and are likely to change with the state’s Covid-19 situation, particularly as people either take increased or fewer public health precautions. While he did not rule it out, the Democratic governor suggested during a press briefing he was unlikely to reimpose restrictions in the state that have been rolled back despite the increase in cases.
New York City will likely see a similar trajectory to neighboring New Jersey, epidemiologists predicted to the New York Times Wednesday. Experts projected the city would likely continue to record approximately 4,000 daily cases through at least mid-May, despite rising vaccination rates.
32.7%. That’s the percentage of New Jersey residents that have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose as of Wednesday, according to Murphy, the eighth highest percentage of any state. Nationally, approximately 29.4% of Americans (37.7% of those over age 18) have received at least one dose, according to the CDC.
New Jersey’s rising cases are part of a broader trend of Covid-19 infections going up nationwide, particularly in Northeastern states and in Michigan. The increase comes as governors have rolled back restrictions—and, in some cases, dropped them entirely—despite increased travel over spring break and as more transmissible coronavirus variants spread. Though New Jersey has maintained more restrictions than some other states, the state has taken steps like increasing indoor dining and other business’ capacity to 50%, and Murphy lifted even more measures on large venues and social gatherings Monday despite the present surge. Public health officials had advised governors against rolling back restrictions and have warned the new trend of cases increasing nationwide could lead to a fourth surge of cases, despite vaccine distribution substantially expanding across the country. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned Monday she feels a sense of “impending doom,” but governors have so far not taken steps to reimpose restrictions.