COVID-19 numbers trending downwards in NJ; Newark extends vaccine, mask mandates

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- COVID-19 cases in New Jersey are continuing their downward trend, indicating the worst of the omicron surge may be subsiding.

Still, officials insist we are not out of the woods yet.

Governor Phil Murphy discussed the latest numbers during his weekly coronavirus briefing Wednesday, saying the state's positivity rate stands at 12%.

"We're on the road from a pandemic to an endemic," Murphy said. "We want to get to a place where we can live with this in an as normal way as possible."

There were 4,354 new cases reported, along with an additional 107 deaths.

Officials say there has been a decrease in hospitalizations, back to levels last seen around the end of December. In fact, hospitalizations went down 25% more since Monday.

Murphy said 2,744 patients remain hospitalized, however, with 462 in intensive care and 187 on ventilators. He added that hospital workers are still overwhelmed, and it's important to stay vigilant.

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Jim Dolan says nurses went from room to room at University Hospital in Newark Tuesday checking to see which COVID patients are getting better and which are not.

So far, more than 50% of residents in the state have received their booster shot, while more than 90% have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

The seven-day average of new positives is down 43% from a week ago and 80% from a month ago.

The new numbers come after Newark Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive order extending mandatory vaccination for entry into certain establishments and facilities for an additional two weeks, to Wednesday, February 16.

The order also extended the requirement for the wearing of face masks for residents and visitors while indoors.

The city will continue to monitor the impact the change in the COVID-19 positivity rate is having on its residents and will consider the impact and effectiveness of the vaccination requirement after February 16 and of the indoor mask mandate after Friday, March 4.

"The data shows that we are heading in the right direction," Baraka said. "Our latest three-day test positivity rate, from January 28, shows a rolling average of 5.73%. We need to continue wearing our masks and getting vaccinated, as another form of protection, to remain on this path of progress. We will continue to be guided by data, and do what is necessary to prevent further spread to protect the people of Newark, those who work here, and visit."

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Christina Huang lobbied for Asian American history to be taught in public schools, and her hard work has paid off and is now law in New Jersey. CeFaan Kim reports on this story.

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