New Jersey on Saturday reported another 3,968 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 30 additional confirmed deaths, as new cases dipped back below 4,000 after surpassing that mark Friday for the first time since Jan. 30.
After four days where the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state increased, hospitalizations also decreased slightly Friday night.
Gov. Phil Murphy posted the update on Twitter, the day after he announced that New Jersey is further expanding eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine starting April 5.
The expansion includes people ages 55 to 64, those 16 and older with intellectual or developmental disabilities, higher education teachers and staffers, communication support workers, sanitation workers, and members of the news media.
Another round of essential workers, including restaurant employees, will become eligible for the vaccine Monday.
This all comes as New Jersey is the No. 1 state in the U.S. for new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last two weeks. Officials say part of the reason is the spread of variants of the virus.
New Jersey health facilities and vaccine centers have now administered about 3.89 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — including about about 2.56 million people with at least one dose and 1.40 million people considered fully vaccinated, according to state data.
The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of its eligible adults — about 4.7 million people — by the end of May. About 20% of the state’s adults have been vaccinated so far.
The expanded eligibility comes as New Jersey residents continue to struggle making vaccine appointments, dealing with an often convoluted and frustrating system. Officials say statewide issues booking appointments is due to supply from the federal government not keeping up with demand.
But Murphy has said supply is set to greatly increase by early next month. The state is set to receive 494,430 doses next week — an increase of about 19% from this week.
Murphy also announced a federally run pilot vaccination center in Newark is set to open Monday morning and will eventually be able to vaccinate 6,000 people a day, seven days a week. Those doses will be above and beyond the state’s usual weekly allotment, the governor said.
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There were 2,168 coronavirus patients across New Jersey’s hospitals as of Friday night — the highest number sine Feb. 18, according to state data. Hospitalizations are down from mid-January, when more than 3,700 patients were being treated, but the number surpassed 2,000 Monday for the first time since Feb. 25.
New Jersey’s latest rate of transmission was a 1.10 for the third straight day. Any number over 1 indicates that the outbreak is growing, with each new case leading to at least one other case.
The latest statewide positivity rate was 7.94% on Tuesday, the day with the latest data.
In all, New Jersey has now reported 785,583 coronavirus cases out of more than 11.9 million PCR tests in the year since the state reported its first case on March 4, 2020. There have also been 106,560 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 9.2 million people has reported 24,382 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 — 21,847 confirmed deaths and 2,535 fatalities considered probable.
There were 2,168 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Friday night — six fewer than the previous night, according to the state’s dashboard.
That included 444 in critical or intensive care (6 more than the previous day), with 235 on ventilators (15 more).
There were also 314 COVID-19 patients discharged.
Hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,000 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April 2020.
New Jersey has reported 205 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 947 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.
On Wednesday, the governor declared the state’s schools will return to full in-person classes for the next school year and districts will not be allowed to offer virtual learning, even for parents who want that option due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
Murphy also announced most New Jersey schools can move classroom desks three feet apart, instead of six feet, under new social distancing guidelines.
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%), 18-29 (19.7%), 65-79 (10.6%), 5-17 (9.1%), 80 and older (4.7%) and 0-4 (1.9%).
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 (46.4%), followed by those 65-79 (33.5%), 50-64 (15.7%), 30-49 (4%), 18-29 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0%).
At least 7,984 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 233 facilities, resulting in 4,014 active cases among residents and 4,654 among staffers.
As of Saturday morning, there have been more than 126.2 million positive COVID-19 tests across the globe, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. An estimated 2.76 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 30.1 million, and the most deaths, at 548,094.
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Rodrigo Torrejon may be reached at [email protected].