The total number of COVID-19 patients in New Jersey hospitals has fallen below 1,000 for the first time in over a month, as the delta variant surge shows more signs of slowing down.
As of Oct. 6, there are 986 COVID-19 hospitalizations—the last time there were less than 1,000 patients was on Aug. 23, when the state’s 71 acute-care hospitals logged 982 patients, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
Gov. Phil Murphy, at an Oct. 6 COVID-19 press briefing, characterized the hospitalizations as “generally going in the right direction.”
New Jersey’s rate of transmission, or how fast the virus spreads, dropped to 0.88, staying below 1 for most of the week. A rate of transmission above 1 means that the virus is spreading, and a rate below 1 means the opposite holds true.
The seven-day average of positive cases on Oct. 5 totaled 1,754, down from a Sept. 22 seven-day average of 2,286 cases, or a 23% decrease. Thursday’s daily case count was 1,730 positive cases.
Amid the surge in the delta variant – almost exclusively among those in the state who are unvaccinated – hospitalizations and daily cases rose to their highest levels since the spring.
Now, with the combination of colder weather and frequent holiday gatherings, state health officials are worried about the potential for COVID-19 spikes this fall and winter.
“It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will be spreading this fall and winter,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said on Monday.
And, Perschilli warned on Oct. 6, the state could very well see an “uptick” between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but assured it would be manageable for the state’s hospitals.
Murphy contended that to restrict in-person holiday gatherings, like around the Thanksgiving dinner table, would be “out of bounds” for the state.
Officials are racing to administer booster shots of Pfizer to elderly New Jerseyans; those with serious medical conditions; and high-risk, front-line workers, which encompasses roughly 1.1 million people in the state. The booster is taken six months after the second shot.
Pfizer, the only drug company to have approval for the booster shot, said this morning that it’s seeking approval for the vaccine’s use on children ages five to 11. There are other two vaccines: the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Moderna jab.