COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Jersey are up more than 25% in just the last three days, fulfilling dire warnings that by the middle of the month the state could be in the worst position of the entire pandemic.
As of Monday 5,155 people were hospitalized with COVID in the state -- up 9% from the prior day, up 28% from Dec. 31 and up 73% in just a week. (Hospital data is a day in arrears on the state's dashboard.)
By early Tuesday morning, an industry source told News 4, some 14 of New Jersey's emergency rooms were on varying levels of "divert" status, meaning they were not accepting some or all new patients at that time due to volume, staffing or other complications.
The state is now well past the surge it saw in the winter of 2020/21, and is rapidly approaching the pandemic-era high of just over 8,000 cases in April 2020.
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Last week the chief physician executive at Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey's largest hospital network, told News 4 New York the state would eclipse that mark by mid-January, and that the network was preparing to implement "crisis standards of care." On Monday, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said she'd asked FEMA to send reinforcements for depleted hospital staffs.
Fueling the growing crisis is an out-of-control outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the state. Before December 22, New Jersey had never seen more than 7,000 positive tests in a day; it is now consistently reporting well over 20,000 a day.
On Tuesday the state reported another 25,277 PCR-confirmed infections, the seventh straight day topping 20,000 or more. In the last week, roughly 1 out of every 50 New Jersey residents has tested positive.