After criticism of the state’s rollout of vaccines and the difficulty in getting an appointment, Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday responded, saying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services previously assured the state it would receive doses from its national reserve. The Washington Post reported that despite the announcement from federal officials that more vaccines were being released from a reserve, the national supply was already depleted.
“Governors were given assurances by @HHSGov that we’d receive additional vaccines from the national reserve for our seniors, health care workers, and first responders,” Murphy wrote on Twitter. “We need answers for why this stockpile doesn’t exist and our allocations have been reduced from what we expected.”
Murphy added that the vaccine would be distributed to those at “higher risk” of severe cases of COVID-19 due to their age and underlying conditions.
“Our first priority is to vaccinate those at higher risk for severe COVID due to age and chronic health factors – and to have the infrastructure in place to rapidly scale up distribution when federal supply meets demand,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.
The 7-day average for new confirmed cases is now 5,417, up 9% from a week ago and 10% higher than a month ago.The death toll for January increased to 1,226 confirmed fatalities.
There were 3,677 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases as of Friday night. That marked 134 more than the previous night and an increase after two days where the number of people hospitalized dropped.
The state of 9 million residents has now lost 20,414 residents in the COVID-19 outbreak — 18,323 confirmed deaths and 2,091 considered probable, according to state data. New Jersey has already announced 1,226 confirmed deaths this month, following 1,890 in December.
New Jersey has now reported 560,423 total confirmed cases out of more than 8.6 million tests administered since officials announced the state’s first case March 4. There have also been 61,662 positive rapid antigen tests, which the state began reporting publicly last week, though the state has cautioned that could overlap with the confirmed PCR tests.
The statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission remained up slightly Saturday to 1.12, from 1.11 a day earlier. A transmission rate over 1 indicates the outbreak is expanding.
The positivity rate for tests administered on Tuesday, the most recent day available, was 10.24% out of 58,095 tests. The positivity rate had been at 10% or higher since Dec. 22, before dipping below 10% on Monday.
New Jersey’s top health official warned Wednesday the state is preparing for a “surge” in hospitalizations from the latest spike cases that could come as soon as next week and may trigger a new round of restrictions, particularly with elective surgeries.
While hospitalizations have remained between 3,500 and 3,900 for weeks, far below the more than 8,000 peak in the spring, Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said that hospital officials are concerned about the weeks ahead due to available staffing.
“What we will not have is the appropriate level of staffing that people are familiar with, conventional staffing,” Persichilli previously said. “So we will be working with our hospitals if they need to progress to what we call contingency staffing, and hopefully never crisis staffing.”
Murphy has warned that hospitalizations above 5,000 patients would likely trigger some new restrictions — particularly on elective surgeries, which include procedures like removing tumors.
More than 327,600 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state as of Saturday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. Of those, 289,620 were the first of two doses people will receive, while 37,921 were the second, according to the dashboard.
The single-day high so far was Jan. 8, when 24,482 doses were administered, according to the state.
New Jersey has averaged about 9,500 shots a day through the first 30 days of the program, including Christmas Day when no doses were administered. The state has been averaging about 17,000 shots a day over the last seven days, state records show.
The state has faced criticism for rolling out inoculations too slowly. Officials stress there may be an undercounting of the number of vaccines administered because of reporting delays and New Jersey, like other states, is depending on the federal government for its supply.
Murphy announced Wednesday people over 65 years old, as well as people with chronic health conditions and smokers are now eligible to get vaccinations.
Officials have said doses should be available for the general public by April or May. Health officials have said they hope to vaccinate 70% of its adult residents — about 4.7 million people — by the end of May.
In recent days, the state has opened the first three of its six planned “mega-sites” for mass vaccinations. There are also vaccines currently available at 130 locations throughout the state, including local health departments, ShopRite stores, and pharmacies.
More than 1.5 million people have registered to get their vaccine.
VACCINE DOSES ADMINISTERED BY COUNTY
- ATLANTIC COUNTY – 10,980 doses administered
- BERGEN COUNTY – 37,314 doses administered
- BURLINGTON COUNTY – 15,685 doses administered
- CAMDEN COUNTY – 18,275 doses administered
- CAPE MAY COUNTY – 4,744 doses administered
- CUMBERLAND COUNTY – 5,114 doses administered
- ESSEX COUNTY – 26,478 doses administered
- GLOUCESTER COUNTY – 11,507 doses administered
- HUDSON COUNTY – 13,663 doses administered
- HUNTERDON COUNTY – 5,149 doses administered
- MERCER COUNTY – 7,874 doses administered
- MIDDLESEX COUNTY – 24,530 doses administered
- MONMOUTH COUNTY – 25,557 doses administered
- MORRIS COUNTY – 23,779 doses administered
- OCEAN COUNTY – 17,549 doses administered
- PASSAIC COUNTY – 14,912 doses administered
- SALEM COUNTY – 1,576 doses administered
- SOMERSET COUNTY – 12,980 doses administered
- SUSSEX COUNTY – 5,627 doses administered
- UNION COUNTY – 15,560 doses administered
- WARREN COUNTY – 3,326 doses administered
- OUT-OF-STATE RESIDENTS – 15,748 doses administered
- UNKNOWN COUNTY – 9,709 doses administered
There were 3,677 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases as of Friday night. It was 134 more than the previous night, a spike after two days where hospitalizations had dropped.
It included 651 in critical or intensive care (25 more than the previous night), with 427 on ventilators (11 fewer).
There were 437 COVID-19 patients discharged Friday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
There have been 111 in-school coronavirus outbreaks in New Jersey involving 564 students, teachers and staff since the school year began in late August, according to the state dashboard.
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. Though the numbers keep rising every week, Murphy has said the school outbreak statistics remain below what state officials were expecting when schools reopened for in-person classes.
New Jersey 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.
The number of New Jersey school districts with all-remote learning has increased as students return from winter break, Murphy said on Monday.
There are 339 districts that started 2021 remotely — an increase of 18 all-remote districts from Dec. 21. Only 77 school districts are returning with full in-person instruction (down from 82 on Dec. 21), and 348 are returning with a hybrid of in-person or remote instruction (down from 362).
Another 47 districts are using some combination of in-person, hybrid, or all-remote across multiple buildings — one more than Dec. 21.
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.2%), followed by those 50-64 (23.7%), 18-29 (19.2%), 65-79 (11.1%), 80 and older (5.4%), 5-17 (7.5%) and 0-4 (1.5%).
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%), followed by those 65-79 (32.9%), 50-64 (15.7%), 30-49 (4%), 18-29 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0%).
At least 7,644 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. That number has been rising again at a steeper rate in recent months, with deaths at the state’s nursing homes nearly tripling in December.
There are currently active outbreaks at 426 facilities, resulting in 6,802 active cases among residents and 7,368 among staffers.
As of Saturday morning, there were more than 93.9 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. This week, the world hit a grim benchmark, surpassing 2 million deaths from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 23.5 million, and the most deaths, at more than 392,300.
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