New Jersey on Tuesday reported another 10 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 1,199 confirmed positive tests as scientists have discovered a new strain of the coronavirus.
The XE variant of COVID-19 is made up of genetic material from BA.1 — the initial omicron variant strain — and BA.2 — the subvariant of the omicron variant.
It is referred to as a “recombinant strain,” meaning it up of two distinct variants, according to the WHO report that included preliminary findings about the XE variant. New Jersey’s most recent variant report did not include any cases of the XE variant.
The state’s seven-day average for confirmed cases was 1,063 on Tuesday, up 25% from a week ago and up 13% from a month ago. Cases had steadily been declining following the omicron surge, but have reversed course and started to rise again over the past week. The seven-day average was over 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time since March 2.
There were 383 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across 70 of the state’s 71 hospitals as of Monday night.
By comparison, admissions hit a recent peak at 6,089 on Jan. 10 during the omicron wave that hit the state this winter. Hospitalizations reached a low point last summer, when they dipped under 300 patients.
There were at least 46 people discharged in that same 24-hour period ending Monday night, according to state data. Of those hospitalized, 51 were in intensive care and 26 were on ventilators.
New Jersey’s transmission rate was 1.09 on Tuesday. When the transmission rate is over 1, that means each new case is leading to at least 1 other new case and the outbreak is expanding.
The statewide daily positivity rate for conducted tests Wednesday, the most recent day available, was 3.66%.
The state on Tuesday also reported 474 probable cases from rapid antigen testing at medical sites.
All of New Jersey’s 21 counties were listed as having “low” rates of transmission, according to recently updated guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy people in the low and medium categories are no longer recommended to wear masks.
BA.2, the new strain of COVID-19, has been spreading in New Jersey for weeks, although at much lower rates than the omicron appears in December and January. Officials have said the omicron “stealth” subvariant appears to spread more easily but generally does not cause more severe illness.
For the week ending March 12, BA.2 accounted for 70.5% of the positive tests sampled (up from 40.6% the previous week), while the omicron variant accounted for nearly 29.2% of positive tests sampled.
New Jersey has reported 1,903,916 total confirmed cases out of more than 17.4 million PCR tests conducted in more than two years since the state reported its first known case March 4, 2020.
The Garden State has also likely recorded 302,339 positive antigen or rapid tests, which are considered cases. And there are numerous cases that have likely never been counted, including positive at-home tests that are not included in the state’s numbers.
The state of 9.2 million residents has reported 33,264 COVID-19 deaths in that time — 30,258 confirmed fatalities and 3,006 probable.
New Jersey has the seventh-most coronavirus deaths per capita in the US — behind Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee — as of the latest data reported Monday. Last summer, the state still had the most deaths per capita in the country.
More than 6.8 million of the 8.46 million eligible people who live, work or study in New Jersey have received the initial course of vaccinations and more than 7.7 million have received the first dose since vaccinations began here on Dec. 15, 2020.
While the number of NJ residents fully vaccinated has reached over 6.8 million, the latest numbers also follow a major study that reveals even a mild case of COVID-19 can significantly affect the brain.
More than 3.2 million people in the state eligible for boosters have received one.
SCHOOL AND LONGTERM CARE NUMBERS
For the week ending March 27, with around 62% of reporting data, another 1,910 COVID-19 cases were reported among staff (547) and students (1,363) across New Jersey’s schools.
Since the start of the academic year, there have been 106,425 students and 29,063 school staff members who have contracted COVID-19 in New Jersey, although the state has never had more than two-thirds of the school districts reporting data in any week.
The state provides total student and staff cases separately from those deemed to be in-school transmission, which is narrowly defined as three or more cases linked through contact tracing.
New Jersey has reported 536 total in-school outbreaks, including 3,696 cases among students and staff. That includes 12 new outbreaks from data reported last week.
At least 9,404 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 were active outbreaks at 144 facilities, resulting in 3,038 current cases among residents and 3,619 cases among staff as of the latest data.
As of Tuesday, there have been more than 492 million COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 6.1 million people having died due to the virus.
The US has reported the most cases (more than 80 million) and deaths (at least 982,207) of any nation.
There have been more than 10.9 billion vaccine doses administered globally.
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Deion Johnson may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DeionRJohhnson