New Jersey health officials on Jan. 7 reported an all-time record-high of 6,314 new COVID-19 cases, as the state grapples with the second wave of the pandemic and sluggish rollout of the vaccination program.
Thursday marks the third time that New Jersey topped 6,000 new daily cases, the other times being in December.
Monumentally higher testing capacity than what the state had in the spring means that more cases would inevitably be detected.
But months-long record-highs in daily fatalities, as well as total COVID-19 hospitalizations, and patients on ventilators or in critical care, have all moved in an alarming direction.
Despite the state well within the territory of a second wave, the new numbers are far less than the worst-case and moderate-case scenarios projected for the peak of the second wave.
Health officials warned that the state could see between 12,595 and 9,932 new daily cases between mid-January and Feb. 1. And there could be roughly 8,700 total COVID-19 patients between mid-January and the start of February, according to these models.
Many of those metrics have instead plateaued in the latter half of December.
All told, more than 510,000 New Jerseyans have tested positive with a PCR test since the first case was announced on March 4, out of the more than 8 million that were administered since then.
The transmission rate – or the speed at which the virus spreads – has dipped below 1 in recent weeks, after hovering above that benchmark for most of the fall. A rate of transmission above 1 means that for every person who gets the virus, it’s spread to at least one other person. It was 0.99 on Jan. 7 , and 0.96 the day before. And there are 3,711 COVID-19 patients reported in the hospital as of Jan. 7, compared to less than 500 patients in early September. State health officials reported 124 fatalities, well above the single-digits which were reported over the summer during a lull between the first and second wave.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in November.
State health officials have administered just over a quarter of the 400,000 COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses they’ve received. On Thursday, the state entered “Phase 1b” the vaccine plan, meaning that in addition to health care personnel and long-term care residents, police and firefighters can now receive the shot.
Over 450,000 people who live or work in New Jersey registered for the vaccine via a state-run online portal between Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, overloading the website.
Just over 2,000 in New Jersey received their second dose as of Wednesday. But Murphy and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli denied that they’re trailing behind in the vaccine rollout. The Wednesday figure of 134,000 shots delivered, they argued, was underreported and that the actual figure is likely much higher.
“I wouldn’t say slow,” the governor maintained. “We’re right in there with every other American state dealing with the same challenges and having in many respects the same reaction.”
State health officials are hoping to administer the vaccine to 70% of the adult population within a six-month window, by April or May.
The vaccination process is a key component of getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control and lifting the myriad of business restrictions put in place to halt the spread of the virus