N.J. reports 7 COVID deaths, 1,026 cases as vaccinations begin for 5 to 11 year olds – NJ.com

New Jersey on Wednesday reported another 1,026 COVID-19 cases and seven deaths as kids between the ages of 5 and 11 began receiving the first pediatric vaccine doses.

The state’s seven-day average for confirmed positive tests is 1,098, down 4% from a week ago and 32% from a month ago. It’s the lowest seven-day average since Aug. 5.

The statewide rate of transmission rose to 1.01 from 0.99 on Tuesday and 0.96 on Monday. The rate is back above the key benchmark of 1, which suggests the spread of COVID-19 is expanding. Any transmission rate above 1 indicates that each infected person is passing the virus to at least one other person and the outbreak is expanding.

There were 680 people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Tuesday night. There were 97 patients discharged in the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday night. Of those hospitalized, 170 were in intensive care (eight more than the previous night), with 91 of them on ventilators (one fewer).

The statewide positivity rate for tests conducted Friday, the most recent day available, was 3.89%.

The delta variant of the virus, which is more contagious than previous variants, now represents 100% of all cases circulating, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has said.

New Jersey’s numbers have been steadily improving in recent weeks. But officials have warned that weather keeps getting colder and the holiday season is approaching. That will likely force more people to gather indoors and could cause another bump in the numbers.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

More than 6 million people who live, work or study in New Jersey — a state of about 9.2 million residents — have now been fully vaccinated. Gov. Phil Murphy has said more than 75% of those eligible in the state have been fully vaccinated.

More than 7.16 million people in the state have received at least one dose, and about 616,000 people have received third doses or boosters.

Doctors, pharmacies and health facilities around the state began administering the Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11 on Wednesday after receiving final federal approvals.

New Jersey has 760,000 children in that age group and the state has ordered 203,800 doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine, which is one-third the dose for those 12 and over. There will 230 sites representing all 21 counties scheduled to receive the pediatric doses.

Murphy on Monday also updated the state’s breakthrough numbers. There have been a total of 42,358 cases among fully vaccinated people leading to 911 hospitalizations and 241 deaths, though those represent a small percentage total cases.

From Oct. 11 to 17, the state had 11,450 positive tests. Of those, 2,199 were from fully vaccinated people and those cases led to 24 hospitalizations (out of 725 total) and two deaths (out of 123 total).

Thirteen of New Jersey’s 21 counties are listed as having “high” rates of coronavirus transmission, while eight are listed with “substantial” transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is recommending that all people in the high and substantial transmission counties wear masks for indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.

Through the first several weeks of the school year, districts in New Jersey have reported at least 137 in-school outbreaks, for a total of 715 cases as of last week. That’s an increase of 11 outbreaks from the previous week, though officials say the numbers have been within reason.

The state reported 30 new outbreaks the previous week. Every county except Burlington and Warren have reported at least one in-school outbreak. The total of 715 cases is cumulative and does not reflect active cases.

In-school outbreaks are defined as three or more cases that are determined through contact tracing to have been transmitted among staff or students while at school. They do not include total cases among staff and students.

New Jersey, an early epicenter of the pandemic, has now reported 28,011 total COVID-19 deaths in the nearly 20 months since the start of the outbreak — 25,195 confirmed and 2,816 considered probable, according to the state dashboard. The probable deaths, which are revised weekly, increased Monday by two fatalities.

The state has the third-most coronavirus deaths per capita in the U.S., behind Mississippi and Alabama.

New Jersey has reported 1,044,964 total confirmed cases out of the more than 15.9 million PCR tests conducted since it announced its first case March 4, 2020. The state has also reported 157,287 positive antigen or rapid tests, which are considered probable cases.

At least 8,639 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data. There are active outbreaks at 136 facilities, resulting in 704 current cases among residents and 612 among staffers.

As of Wednesday, there have been more than 247 million positive COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 5 million people having died due to the virus. The U.S. has reported the most cases (more than 46 million) and deaths (more than 748,900) of any nation.

There have been more than 7.1 billion vaccine doses administered globally.

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @johnsb01.