The latest wave of COVID-19 outbreaks showed signs of slowing down over the weekend, as state health officials race to vaccinate millions of New Jersey adults by the summer.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced on April 12 that the state logged another 2,079 COVID-19 cases–the lowest in five weeks. The seven-day average was 3,173 cases, down 18% from last week but still 8% up from last month.
The state logged a “relatively stable” range of COVID-19 patients: 2,261 by the latest count, Murphy said. Second-wave hospitalizations peaked at 3,873 on Dec. 22, 2020, and were more than 8,000 in April 2020.
But the biggest indicator that the pandemic is slowing was the drop in transmission rate, which fell below 1 for the first time in months.
Saturday’s rate was .98, down from 1.07 on April 5. The transmission rate announced April 4 stood at .94. Anything above 1 means that for every one person who gets infected with COVID-19, they spread it to at least one other person.
“Also, remember that the rate of transmission is calculated using a seven-day rolling average of positive test reports, so this number tells us that we are currently seeing a gradual decrease in the rate of spread,” the governor continued.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli warned though, that the fatality count, and the number of patients on ventilators have both gone up in recent days.
“Definitely our testing shows that the younger demographic account for the highest percent of the test,” she added
State health officials are aiming to vaccinate 4.7 million adults – those over the age of 16 – by June 30. The vaccines are a vital component of permanently rolling back restrictions on businesses, travel and public gatherings, which have been in place this past year to keep the spread of the virus at bay.
The state fully vaccinated 2.2 million adults as of April 12, and health officials are vying to get enough shots in the arm to counter these surges fueled by the more contagious B.1.1.7 variants.
The best and moderate-case scenarios call for hospitalizations and daily cases to peak on April 19 and then coast down over the summer. A worst-case scenario calls for a peak dragging on from May to June, in what Murphy described as a “long hot summer.
Full eligibility opens up on April 19, fueling a worsening “supply-demand imbalance,” but Murphy has defended that approach, which has left more people vying for a COVID-19 vaccine than there are in the available supply of doses.
“I would much rather be where we are, with doses getting into arms nearly as fast as they are arriving, than to have millions of doses sitting unused in a freezer,” he said.
A widespread shortage of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson doses is expected to crater in the coming weeks, thanks to a manufacturing mishap that led to 15 million doses going to waste.
New Jersey got 550,000 doses of the COVID-19 shot last week, split among the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna versions and 131,000 doses of the J&J version, according to Persichilli.
That drops to 466,000 doses this week, including a drop to just 15,600 J&J doses. Next week, the expected J&J dosage supply drops to just 5,200 viles.o