New Jersey on Monday reported another 165 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and an additional six confirmed deaths, as vaccinations continue to help shrink the state’s COVID-19 numbers to their lowest levels in months, with about 5 in 9 residents having received at least one dose.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the update at his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton, three day after he signed an executive order formally terminating the 15-month-old public health emergency he declared to combat the pandemic.
But the Democratic governor also signed a controversial bill into law that keeps some of his emergency orders — including current mask rules and moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs — and allows his administration to retain some powers over the state’s recovery the next eight months. Republicans were vehemently opposed to the plan.
“The public health emergency is over. The pandemic is not,” Murphy said Monday. “We still have an aggressive vaccination program to oversee. We still must ensure that we have the capability to combat any hotspots that may arise in areas where vaccinations lag.”
More than 4.2 million people who live, work, or study in the state have now been fully vaccinated at New Jersey sites. That includes about 94,000 out-of-state residents who were vaccinated in New Jersey. Nearly 169,000 New Jerseyans have been vaccinated in other states.
The state’s goal is to have 70% of New Jersey’s 6.9 million adults vaccinated by the end of this month. About 58% of adult residents have been fully vaccinated so far. In addition, more than 283,000 first and second vaccine doses have been administered to kids between ages 12 and 17.
More than 5 million people have received at least their first dose at a New Jersey site — about 55% of the state’s 9.2 million residents, according to the state’s numbers.
The state’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive COVID-19 tests is now 224 — down 28% from a week ago and 82% from a month ago.
There were 430 COVID-19 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across New Jersey as of Sunday night — the lowest number since Sept. 27. Hospitalizations continue to fall from the peak of the state’s second wave, when 3,873 patients were in hospitals on Dec. 22.
The statewide transmission rate increased to 0.71, up from from 0.69 the day before. But any number under 1 indicates that each new case is leading to less than one additional case.
The latest statewide positivity was 1.06%.
Murphy on Monday offered a comparison to where the state was June 7, 2020, when there were no vaccines. On that day, the state reported 426 confirmed new cases and 1,781 COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
“All of this is to say one thing: The vaccines work,” the governor said. “Masking up and social distancing worked — and it will still work both for those who are unvaccinated and for those who feel more comfortable in continuing to wear a mask and keep a social distance.”
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New Jersey, a state of 9.2 million people, has now reported 26,285 deaths from complications related to COVID-19 in slightly more than 15 months — 23,607 confirmed and 2,678 considered probable. That’s the most deaths per capita among U.S. states.
In all, the state, an early epicenter of the pandemic, has reported 888,507 total confirmed cases out of more than 14 million tests since it announced its first case March 4, 2020.
The state has also reported 129,004 positive antigen tests during the pandemic. 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.
With numbers dropping, the state has few remaining capacity or social distancing restrictions on businesses. But masks are still required in schools and day care, on public transit, at healthcare settings, and state agencies open to the public.
Murphy announced Monday that children and staff members at New Jersey summer camps won’t be required to wear masks outdoors as the state updated COVID guidance to match new federal recommendations. Fully vaccinated kids and staffers also won’t be mandated to wear masks indoors at camps, though unvaccinated people will still be required to wear masks with “only limited exception,” the governor said.
There were 430 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s hospitals as of Sunday night — 31 fewer than the previous night, according to state data.
That included 106 in critical or intensive care (four fewer than the night before), with 61 on ventilators (the same as the night before.
There were 44 COVID-19 patients discharged Sunday.
By comparison, hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,300 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April 2020 and more than 3,800 during the second wave in December.
New Jersey has reported 281 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 1,263 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 his executive order allowing for virtual schooling in New Jersey during the pandemic will not be renewed beyond this academic year, which will officially end the option for virtual learning in the fall.
But the governor said students will likely still be required to wear masks when the next academic year begins — though he since added that could change.
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 (22.4%), 18-29 (19.9%), 65-79 (10%), 5-17 (10.1%), 80 and older (4.4%) and 0-4 (2.1%).
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 (45.5%), followed by those 65-79 (33.7%), 50-64 (16.3%), 30-49 (4.1%), 18-29 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0%).
At least 8,057 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 94 facilities, resulting in 900 active cases among residents and 1,343 among staffers. Those numbers have slowed as vaccinations continue at the facilities.
As of early Monday afternoon, there have been more than 173 million positive COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.7 million people have died from the coronavirus.
The U.S. has reported more cases than any other nation, at more than 33 million, and the most deaths, at more than 597,600.
More than 2.1 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally.
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Brent Johnson may be reached at [email protected].