New Jersey on Thursday reported another 247 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and an additional seven confirmed deaths, marking the sixth straight day of fewer than 300 positive tests announced in a single day, as the state’s outbreak continues to wane amid increasing vaccinations.

Nearly 4.3 million people who live, work, or study in New Jersey have now been fully vaccinated at state sites. That includes about 96,000 out-of-state residents who were vaccinated in New Jersey. Nearly 170,000 New Jersey residents have been vaccinated in other states.

The state’s goal is to have 70% of New Jersey’s 6.9 million adults vaccinated by the end of this month. About 63% of adult residents have been fully vaccinated so far. In addition, more than 321,000 first and second vaccine doses have been administered to kids between ages 12 and 17.

More than 5 million people have received at least their first dose at a New Jersey site — about 55% of the state’s 9.2 million residents, according to the state’s numbers.

“Increasingly, this is a pandemic among unvaccinated individuals,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

Murphy also clarified that New Jersey school districts can make their own decisions locally on whether students and staff need to wear masks indoors, particularly during extreme heat or because of other health reasons — though he stressed they shouldn’t ditch masks completely.

“I think we’re gonna leave it to the judgment of the district, but what we’re not saying is you can take your mask off forever and always,” he said.

The state’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive COVID-19 tests is now 227 — down 7% from a week ago and 79% from a month ago.

There were 436 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or suspected cases across New Jersey as of Wednesday night — the same number as the day before. Hospitalizations have continued to fall from the peak of the state’s second wave, when 3,873 patients were in hospitals on Dec. 22.

The statewide transmission rate increased to 0.77, from 0.74 the day before. But any number under 1 indicates that each new case is leading to less than one additional case.

Though the state has seen some “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases among people who have been fully vaccinated, it’s only 0.06% of inoculated patients, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Wednesday.

New Jersey, an early epicenter of the pandemic, has seen a staggering death toll from the virus. The state of 9.2 million people has now reported 26,322 deaths from complications related to COVID-19 in slightly more than 15 months — 23,637 confirmed and 2,685 considered probable. That’s the most deaths per capita among U.S. states. The probable deaths, which are revised weekly increased by eight on Wednesday.

In all, the Garden State has reported 889,622 total confirmed cases out of more than 14 million tests since it announced its first case March 4, 2020.

The state has also reported 129,083 positive antigen tests during the pandemic. Those cases are considered probable, and health officials have warned that positive antigen tests could overlap with the confirmed PCR tests because they are sometimes given in tandem.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

HOSPITALIZATIONS

There were 436 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s hospitals as of Wednesday night — the same as the previous night, according to state data.

That included 99 in critical or intensive care (six fewer than the night before), with 56 on ventilators (four fewer).

There were 87 COVID-19 patients discharged Wednesday.

By comparison, hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,300 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April 2020 and more than 3,800 during the second wave in December.

SCHOOL CASES

New Jersey has reported 281 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 1,263 cases among students, teachers and school staff this academic year, according to state data.

The state defines school outbreaks as cases where contact tracers determined two or more students or school staff caught or transmitted COVID-19 in the classroom or during academic activities at school. Those numbers do not include students or staff believed to have been infected outside school or cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks.

There are about 1.4 million public school students and teachers across the state, though teaching methods amid the outbreak have varied, with some schools teaching in-person, some using a hybrid format and others remaining all-remote.

Murphy has said his executive order allowing for virtual schooling in New Jersey during the pandemic will not be renewed beyond this academic year, which will officially end the option for virtual learning in the fall.

But the governor said students will likely still be required to wear masks when the next academic year begins — though he since added that could change.

AGE BREAKDOWN

Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (30.9%), followed by those 50-64 (22.4%), 18-29 (19.9%), 65-79 (10%), 5-17 (10.1%), 80 and older (4.4%) and 0-4 (2.1%).

On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with preexisting conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (45.5%), followed by those 65-79 (33.7%), 50-64 (16.3%), 30-49 (4.1%), 18-29 (0.4%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0%).

At least 8,058 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data.

There are active outbreaks at 77 facilities, resulting in 826 active cases among residents and 1,236 among staffers. Those numbers have slowed as vaccinations continue at the facilities.

GLOBAL NUMBERS

As of early Thursday afternoon, there have been more than 174 million positive COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.7 million people have died from the coronavirus.

The U.S. has reported more cases than any other nation, at more than 33 million, and the most deaths, at more than 598,400.

More than 2.24 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally.

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Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com.



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