Speaking at an April 19, 2021 press conference, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said several key data points are making him and state health officials “cautiously optimistic” that New Jersey’s second wave of coronavirus is beginning to end. But he also said New Jersey isn’t ready for a bigger reopening just yet.
Hospitalizations, death rates and new cases continue to drop: New Jersey logged under 2,000 new PCR tests on Monday (1,935), down from a peak of 6,922 on Jan. 13, the highest it has ever been in the entire pandemic, according to the state Department of Health. The last time New Jersey saw under 2,000 new cases a day was Feb. 15. In addition, COVID-related deaths are down significantly, especially compared to last April.
“It’s baby steps, but I do like the fact that numbers are slowly beginning to go in a better direction,” said Murphy. “The rate of transmission slipped a little bit today, but if you look at hospitalizations over the past number of days, ICU, ventilator use, it’s slowly but surely, beginning to go in the right direction.”
“From my taste, its too early to declare victory and we still have this naggingly high positivity rate: On weekends, its low double digits and weekdays it’s high single digits,” he continued. “But again, its slowly but surely — when you have six million shots in arms … the weather getting a little bit better — that’s all cause for quiet, cautious optimism.”
As for the suspended J&J vaccine due to six blood clot cases (out of seven million people injected), a decision to lift could occur by the end of this week:
“If we can get J&J back at least to some degree and Pfizer and Moderna stay steady, I have complete confidence we can get to our goal of having 4.7 million adult New Jerseyeans vaccinated by the middle of June if not before.”
“It might be a little too early to predict our trajectory, but I think we can be cautiously optimistic,” agreed Dr. Christina Tan, the state’s epidemiologist. “For example, when we look at our weekly CALI activity levels, we are starting to see activity kind of dip a little bit, which is good to hear, good to see.”
Supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine remain steady in the state, and New Jersey is not expected to get increased doses of those vaccines.