NJ surges to its third-highest daily total for COVID infections
TRENTON – State health officials announced New Jersey’s third-highest single-day total of COVID-19 infections of the entire pandemic Thursday.
The state Department of Health announced 7,637 new infections, including 6,271 confirmed by PCR testing and 1,366 probable cases detected by antigen tests.
The only days with higher announced case totals were nearly a year ago – Jan. 13, when a combined 7,943 cases were announced, and Jan. 7, when 7,653 cases were added.
The spike may show the anticipated impact of the omicron variant is underway. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that as many as 13% of all infections in New Jersey and New York may be the omicron variant, which spreads more easily but might lead to milder cases.
There are currently 1,756 people hospitalized in New Jersey with COVID, according to the state Department of Health. That total has doubled since Nov. 26, three weeks ago. It is the highest since late April but still less than half the level of one year ago, when 3,669 were in hospitals with COVID.
Of those patients, 335 are in intensive care, the most since late April but less than the 721 one year ago.
There are 155 patients on ventilators, the most in seven months but still just one-third of the level from a year ago and far below the more than 1,300 in the spring of 2020.
The state announced an additional 16 lab-confirmed COVID deaths Thursday, which remains at approximately its recent average.
The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic is now 28,659, including 25,824 confirmed to be COVID-related and 2,835 that are probable. For sake of comparison, that now exceeds the population of Lacey Township and would be the 85th largest municipality out of 565 in the state.
Data from COVID Act Now indicates that as of Wednesday, New Jersey had the nation’s 20th highest daily case rate, averaging 51.8 per 100,000 residents. That rate has doubled since Nov. 29, or two and a half weeks.
The highest current case rates are generally in New Jersey’s less populous counties – Warren, Sussex, Salem, Cape May and Cumberland, followed by the Shore counties of Ocean and Monmouth.
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.