But Gov. Phil Murphy said he does not expect the state will return to the strict rules imposed in the early days of the pandemic. “You’d have to leave it on the table. But I don’t see it, honestly,” Murphy said, when asked Dec. 19 on Fox News Sunday with Bret Baier if he anticipated another pandemic shutdown.
“Among other reasons, we have a very high degree of vaccinations, folks are getting boosted, which clearly gives another layer of protection against this.”
On Sunday, the state logged 6,533 new positive COVID-19 cases; 6,352 new cases were posted on Dec. 18; 6,260 on Dec. 17; and 6,271 new confirmed positive tests on Dec. 16.
Murphy warned last week that some level of capacity restrictions could be implemented, but offered no details. Mask requirements and vaccine mandates so far are not in store for New Jersey, he added. “I think you’re going to see a whole range of things happening, whether the state decides to do it or whether individual locations start to do it – my fear is that we’re going to get back into capacity limits in some form or another,” Murphy said following an unrelated event last week in Essex County.
The combination of holiday gatherings and the colder weather forcing people indoors has allowed the virus to spread, primarily the delta variant and primarily among those who have not gotten the vaccine,
according to state health officials, while immunity has waned in those who’ve only gotten the initial inoculations but not the booster.
And the omicron variant has added another complication, with the new strain infecting even those with the vaccine, though apparently producing milder symptoms. Murphy said there are four known cases of the omicron variant so far detected in New Jersey, but said that the actual count could be higher.
So far, 6.35 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while more than 1.9 million have gotten a booster shot or third dose.
The latest data from the state Department of Health showed 1,852 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients being treated at the state’s 71 hospitals, which marks the highest patient count since April 23. There were 343 intensive care patients, also the highest since late April, according to state, with 174 on ventilators.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli warned that the state’s hospitals would reach a peak of 2,000 COVID-19 patients around mid-January, before plateauing and then once again trending down.
“The one thing we cannot allow is our health care system to get overrun,” the governor said. Last spring as emergency rooms and intensive care beds filled, the governor enacted a ban on elective procedures, which likely drove up fatalities from other causes.
At the height of the pandemic last spring, the state’s hospitals were treating more than 8,000 patients. A year ago, the state’s hospitals had over 3,500 COVID-19 patients.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]