It will get worse before it gets better. That’s Governor Phil Murphy’s assessment of where the state stands at this point in the pandemic.
The latest figures, reported Tuesday, showed 138 deaths, the most in a single day since May, 5400 new cases, a rise in hospitalizations, and a positivity rate above 15%. He said it’s still too early to see benefits from the vaccine.
“The vaccines are real, they’re gonna take more and more effect as time goes on,” Murphy said, “but we have to bridge ourselves over the next number of weeks if not a couple of months ... Unfortunately as we had predicted it gets worse before it gets better, but it will get better there’s no question about it.”
The state says it hopes to vaccinate 70% of the adults in New Jersey, about 4.7 million people, in the next six months. So far, only a small dent has been made in that number.
“There are well over a hundred thousand people who have gotten this vaccination,” Murphy said, “but it’s gonna be a while till we’re out of the woods.”
The state opened an online portal to allow residents to register for vaccinations, but they are currently available only to health care workers and people in long-term care facilities.
Murphy did point out that the state’s rate of transmission remains below 1, which he called “a good thing.” Experts say that’s because cases aren’t increasing as fast as they were in the spring, when doctors and hospitals were still learning how to fight the virus.
Murphy said it’s a different story with hospitalizations. “Total hospitalizations, and that’s the number we watch like a hawk, we cannot allow our hospitals to be overrun are up a little, at 3702,” he said. It was the third straight day of increases as health officials closely monitor the potential rise in infections following the holidays. But the number was still far below the more than 8,000 patients being treated at the peak of the initial wave.
The positivity rate for tests conducted on New Year’s Day was more than 15%, Murphy said. He did not disclose how many tests were conducted on the holiday, when people were less likely to seek tests.