The number of people hospitalized in New Jersey due to COVID-19 rose 25% in less than a week, and Gov. Phil Murphy says infection rates in schools are rising too.
The rate of students infected with COVID per 1,000 people rose more than 80% from the first week of November to the last, Murphy said in a Monday briefing. For staff? The rate rose more than 160% over that same period.
To be sure, the state is still in a much better position than it was this time a year ago, thanks to vaccinations. Even so, the number of new positive PCR tests in the state has more than doubled in the last four weeks, according to the governor's data.
"The number of cases as you can see, it becomes quite obvious that we have experienced, as we expected and predicted, a post-Thanksgiving spike," Murphy said last week. "There’s no other way really to look at these numbers."
In the past six days, hospitalizations across New Jersey have seen a 25% spike for a total of 1,650 patients. That figure, higher than what officials would like to see going into the winter, is almost a third of the hospitalizations seen exactly one year ago. On Dec. 13, 2020, the state recorded 3,596 hospitalizations.
Murphy on Monday repeated his concerns about the overwhelming majority of COVID patients hospitalized being unvaccinated.
"Looking at numbers from hospitals, latest data tells us that the hospitalization rate among unvaccinated is more than six times of vaccinated individuals," he said.
Like in New York and across the U.S., the majority of cases still appear to be the delta variant and New Jersey has only confirmed one case of the omicron variant so far.
"Hundreds of thousands of kids have received the vaccines and have done very, very well. We need to protect them so that those that cannot get vaccinated right now are also protected. In times of high transmissibility and high cases, it is going to flow over into our schools, and that's what we're seeing now. I can only suggest if you want to protect our children, get yourself vaccinated," Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.
But unlike its neighbor New York City, who will start requiring kids age 5-11 to show proof of at least one shot of the vaccine to dine indoors at a restaurant, go to a gym or see a Broadway show, Murphy said that's not the plan right now.
"We still that trend of both folks who are getting infected through in-school transmission but also more frequently infection that is coming from outside," he said. "You never take anything off the table, but there are no plans as we sit here today to mandate vaccines in our kids."