New Jersey reported another 5,095 cases of the coronavirus and 51 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Christmas Day, while the statewide transmission rate fell further below the key benchmark of 1.
Gov. Phil Murphy has urged residents to keep gatherings small with only people in their immediate family bubble during Christmas and New Years celebrations to avoid a surge following the holidays.
“Stay safe as you we celebrate the holidays. Social distance. Mask up,” Murphy said in a tweet Friday.
The state had reported 80 additional deaths on Thursday.
The statewide rate of transmission dropped for the 12th straight day, from 0.96 to 0.95, the lowest it’s been since Sept. 2.
Any number over 1 means each person who gets COVID-19 is spreading the disease to more than one person, and getting the rate below 1 is considered key to suppressing the pandemic.
Statewide hospitalizations dropped to 3,669 patients being treated for confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases as of Thursday night. That’s much lower than the more than 8,000 patients at the peak of the first wave in April. Hospitalizations have hovered above 3,500 since Dec. 8.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care rose to 753 from 749, and the number on ventilators remained the same at 524.
The seven-day average for daily new cases increased Friday to 4,597. That’s down 4% from a week ago, but up 12% from a month ago.
Officials say the largest percentage of recent new cases — more than 60% — are a result of transmission in private settings and are coming from all over the state.
Since the outbreak started in March, New Jersey has reported 454,902 cases out of more than 7.46 million tests administered. Those totals do not include rapid tests.
The state of 9 million residents has reported 18,595 deaths — 16,650 confirmed and 1,945 probable fatalities from complications related to the virus.
The state Wednesday reported seven new confirmed in-school outbreaks in New Jersey, which resulted in 31 new cases.
There have now been 105 confirmed in-school outbreaks across the state, resulting in 459 cases among students and staff members across 98 schools.
Those numbers do not include students or staff believed to have been infected outside school, or cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks. Though the numbers keep rising every week, Murphy has said the school outbreak statistics remain below what state officials were expecting when schools reopened for in-person classes.
The extensive rules for schools, which include social distancing guidelines for classrooms and strict mask requirements, have made schools among the safest places in the state, he said. The governor said of the 250,563 cases reported overall statewide since the school year began, only 2/10ths of 1% are “traced to activity within our schools.”
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.5%), followed by those 50-64 (24%), 18-29 (19%), 65-79 (11.2%), 80 and older (5.9%), 5-17 (6.7%), and 0-4 (1.4%).
On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially people with…