New Jersey on Friday reported another 2,479 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and an additional 21 confirmed deaths, while statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped further below 2,000 and nearly 4 in 10 adults have now been vaccinated in the state.
Appearing at an unrelated event in Ship Bottom, Gov. Phil Murphy repeated that more reopening steps are on the horizon, saying next week he’ll announce “fairly significant news on what the state’s gonna look like over the next number of weeks.” He has not yet provided details, though he has said any steps would be incremental.
Murphy has been optimistic — though cautiously — about the state’s numbers improving three weeks after officials declared a third wave of the pandemic was hitting the state.
“We keep going in the right direction, we’re gonna be able to open this place up,” said the governor, who noted Memorial Day — the unofficial start of the summer at the Jersey Shore — is a month away.
“Please get vaccinated,” he added. “Continue to so the smart, right things. We’re gonna have a great summer on the Jersey Shore.”
New Jersey’s COVID-19 hospitalizations were below 2,000 for the second straight day, with 1,941 patients across the state’s 71 hospitals as of Wednesday night.
“That’s a big deal,” Murphy said.
The state’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive tests is now 2,700, down 12% from a week ago and 20% from a month ago.
This marks the fifth straight day the state has reported fewer than 3,000 new cases.
More than 2.68 million people have been fully vaccinated in the state as of Thursday — about 39% of the state’s 6.9 million adult residents. The state’s goal is to fully vaccinate 70% of its eligible adult population — about 4.7 million people — by the end of June.
Murphy said Thursday he still believes “with a fairly high degree of confidence” the state will reach that mark despite some vaccine centers have reported dwindling demand.
But the governor also warned the state is “beginning to see” hesitancy among residents prompt a reduced demand for the vaccine. He said the state is brainstorming ways to “proactively reach” into communities to drum up support for the vaccine — including possibly using mobile units, public service announcements, working with businesses, and “maybe knocking on your door.”
In all, more than 6.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, with more than 3.9 million people receiving at least one dose.
The state’s latest rate of transmission was at 0.93 for the third straight day. The rate had dropped steadily in recent weeks after reaching 1.07 on April 5. Any number over 1 indicates that the outbreak is growing, with each new case leading to at least one other case. A declining transmission rate means the spread is slowing.
The statewide positivity rate for tests conducted on Monday, the most recent day available, was 6.49% — which is “ as low as it’s been in weeks,” Murphy said.
In all, New Jersey has now reported 870,986 confirmed coronavirus cases out of slightly more than 13 million PCR tests in the nearly 14 months since the state reported its first case on March 4, 2020. There have also been 122,428 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 million people has reported 25,328 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 — including 22,717 confirmed deaths and 2,611 fatalities considered probable.
New Jersey has the most coronavirus deaths per capita among American states.
CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage
There were 1,941 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Thursday night — 56 fewer than the previous night, according to state data.
That included 453 in critical or intensive care (four fewer than the night before), with 247 on ventilators (two more).
There were also 257 COVID-19 patients discharged Wednesday, while 238 were admitted.
By comparison, hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,300 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April and more than 3,800 during the second wave in December.
New Jersey has reported 254 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 1,125 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 New Jersey’s schools are expected to return to full in-person classes for the next school year.
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 (22.7%), 18-29 (19.9%), 65-79 (10.2%), 5-17 (9.7%), 80 and older (4.4%) and 0-4 (2%).
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 (46.66%), followed by those 65-79 (32.91%), 50-64 (15.95%), 30-49 (4.06%), 18-29 (0.39%), 5-17 (0.01%) and 0-4 (0.03%).
At least 8,021 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 229 facilities, resulting in 2,805 active cases among residents and 3,626 among staffers. Those numbers have slowed as vaccinations continue at the facilities.
As of early Friday afternoon, there have been more than 144.97 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.07 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 31.95 million, and the most deaths, at more than 570,600.
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com
Brent Johnson may be reached at email@example.com.