The precipitous drop in the 7-day average for new daily cases in the Garden State is an encouraging sign, Governor Phil Murphy said, but he cautioned we are not out of the woods yet.
"We're also optimistic about the rate of transmission, which has fallen below one and continues to drop, as well as the test positivity rate," Murphy said.
The governor said that overall hospitalizations have been dropping significantly over the past week, but the numbers are still higher than anything we had seen with the two prior surges, and four children -- three of them infants -- have died in the past month.
"The number of critically ill patients in our hospitals remains high, and there have been four COVID associated child deaths, including three infants, since Christmas," Persichilli said. "And on Friday, we received six reports of new cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, the most reports we have ever received in a single day, and six of those children are currently hospitalized. So we must remain vigilant, because as it relates to this pandemic, the virus continues to test our health care system and can cause severe consequences among children. A reminder that COVID-19 isn't always a benign illness in children."
Twelve children have died in New Jersey since the pandemic began, eight of them younger than 5 and unable to be vaccinated.
"We also remain very concerned about the ICU and ventilator numbers, which are coming down much more slowly," Murphy said.
We’re seeing overall hospitalizations dropping significantly over the past week – but these numbers are still higher than anything we had seen with the two prior surges.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) January 24, 2022
We also remain very concerned about the ICU and ventilator numbers, which are coming down much more slowly. pic.twitter.com/RggLFdrNjQ
The news comes as students in New Jersey's fourth-largest school district returned to in-person learning.
Paterson public schools have been conducting remote classes since students returned from winter break due to the large number of COVID cases among students and staff.
Elsewhere in the state, Rutgers University announced over the weekend it will require COVID booster shots for all students before the start of the new semester.
In-person classes resume in New Brunswick next week, on January 31.
Students with a medical or religious exemption are excused from the new requirement.
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Additionally, two new state-supported vaccination mega-sites have opened in Passaic and Bergen counties, expanding to five total in the state that provide increased access to COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses, including pediatric doses.
Three other sites are in Burlington, Gloucester, and Somerset counties.
The Passaic County site, which opened on Saturday, is in the former Macy's store at the Preakness Shopping Center, 1210 Hamburg Turnpike in Wayne. It is open Tuesday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walks-in are welcome, or individuals can register for appointments by CLICKING HERE. The site is a partnership between Passaic County, Passaic County Department of Health Services, St. Joseph's University Medical Center, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and the National Guard.
The Bergen County site opened on January 19 and is in the former Lord & Taylor store at the Fashion Center of Paramus, 50 E. Ridgewood Ave., Paramus. The site is open Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Appointments can be scheduled HERE, and walk-ins are welcome. The site is a partnership between Hackensack Meridian Health, NJDOH and the New Jersey State Police.
"These mega-sites are regionally located to provide additional access to COVID-19 vaccination and booster to all who need," Persichilli said. "Thank you to all of the partners involved in standing up these mega-sites. With COVID-19 and its variants still impacting our state, just under 50% of those eligible for booster doses have received them. And if you still have not been vaccinated, please do it today to not only protect you, but those around you."
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