The pace of coronavirus’ spread is increasing in New Jersey, along with resulting COVID-19 diagnoses, hospitalizations and deaths. And in some cases, the numbers are even higher than they were last summer, when masking and other infection control measures were in place but no COVID-19 vaccines available.
The biggest increases when compared to last summer come in the rate of transmission, or RT, a measure of how quickly the virus is spreading, according to an NJ Spotlight News analysis of state data. The RT has been on the rise most days since New Jersey lifted its mask mandate in late May; it recently reached 1.44, meaning each infected person is likely spreading the disease to more than one other person. That figure is a transmission rate not recorded here since November, when the state was heading into the peak of its second wave of infection.
The number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed daily in New Jersey has also been trending upward since early July, the data shows. It peaked late last week at more than 900 new cases a day — a level not recorded since late May — before dipping again in recent days. Daily diagnoses have also been higher for nearly two weeks than they were this time last year.
Numbers for daily COVID-19-related hospitalizations — including the use of critical care beds and ventilators — and deaths have not jumped above the levels recorded last summer, the analysis showed. Hospital use is trending upward, just slightly; fatalities are largely holding steady.
Gov. Phil Murphy said at his pandemic media briefing Monday that 99% of those who were hospitalized or died as a result of the virus between mid-January and mid-July were unvaccinated. “Because of the vaccines, this is a pandemic among the unvaccinated. The protection they afford to the fully vaccinated cannot be contested,” he said. More than 5 million of New Jersey’s nearly 9 million residents are now fully vaccinated.