New Jersey

Stunning Surge in NJ COVID Cases, as Positives Top 15,000 in a Day

Confirmed new cases Thursday were up 59% over Wednesday and up 126% over Tuesday

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New Jersey reported 15,482 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday -- more than double the state's pre-omicron record and an increase of nearly 60% in just one day.

The stunning surge puts in stark relief just how quickly the omicron variant is spreading in the state and the region. New daily cases in the state are now only slightly behind new cases in New York City, with roughly the same population.

Hospitals are so far holding up, but at least six in the central part of the state did have to go on "divert" status at various times on Tuesday. Statewide, hospitalizations are at the highest levels since April 2021, but still roughly half of what they were at the peak last December.

On Wednesday, hospitalizations hit 2,241, up 7% from the day before and double what they were three weeks previously.

New Jersey’s largest city implemented a new mask order on the same day state infections neared an 11-month high for a fifth day in a row. Tracie Strahan reports.

Local governments across the state are scrambling to react. In Essex County, where daily positives have nearly tripled in the last 48 hours, Newark, Montclair and South Orange have all re-imposed indoor mask mandates.

School districts are also struggling to keep up, with at least two -- Paterson and Maplewood-South Orange -- announcing they will come back to temporary virtual learning after the winter break.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy says he doesn't plan to follow New York's footsteps when it comes to bringing back mask requirements. NBC New York's Chris Glorioso reports.

Omicron has raced ahead of other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections last week, federal health officials said Monday. The CDC numbers showed nearly a six-fold increase in omicron's share of infections in only one week.

In much of the country, omicron's prevalence is even higher. It's responsible for an estimated 90 percent of new infections in the New York area, the Southeast, the industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.

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