N.J. reports 3,384 COVID cases, 14 deaths. Testing decreases worldwide. – NJ.com

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New Jersey on Wednesday reported 14 COVID-19 deaths and 3,384 new confirmed positive tests as experts say covid testing has significantly decreased across the world.
Experts say testing has dropped by 70 to 90% worldwide from the first to the second quarter of this year — the opposite of what they say should be happening with new omicron variants on the rise in places such as the United States and South Africa.
“We’re not testing anywhere near where we might need to,” said Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, who directs the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University. “We need the ability to ramp up testing as we’re seeing the emergence of new waves or surges to track what’s happening” and respond.
New Jersey’s seven-day average for confirmed cases increased to 3,025 on Wednesday, up 34% from a week ago, and up 118% from a month ago. The seven-day average has surpassed 3,000 for the first time since Feb. 4.
Hospitalizations, which typically lag about two weeks behind case trends, have also been on the rise this month.
There were 720 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across the state’s 71 hospitals as of Tuesday night, an increase of 67 patients from the previous night. That’s the most since March 2, but still significantly lower than when they peaked at 6,089 on Jan. 10 from the omicron wave.
There were at least 107 people discharged in that same 24-hour period ending Tuesday night, according to state data. Of those hospitalized, 74 were in intensive care (eight more than the previous night) and 36 were on ventilators (11 more).
New Jersey’s statewide transmission rate was 1.22 Wednesday. When the transmission rate is over 1, that means each new case is leading to at least one additional case and the outbreak is expanding.
The positivity rate for tests conducted on Friday, the most recent day with available data, was 12.45%.
The state on Wednesday also reported 1,517 probable cases from rapid antigen testing at medical sites.
After months of all of New Jersey’s 21 counties being listed as having “low” transmission rates, 14 counties are now at “medium,” according to the updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Based on community levels determined Tuesday, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset, Sussex, Union counties now have “medium” transmission levels. Healthy people in the low and medium areas are no longer recommended to wear masks.
The BA.2 strain of COVID-19 has been spreading in New Jersey for weeks, though at much lower rates than the omicron surge in December and January. Officials have said the omicron “stealth” subvariant appears to spread more easily but generally does not cause more severe illness.
For the week ending April 23, BA.2 accounted for 96.7% of the positive tests sampled (slightly up from 96.6% the previous week), while the omicron variant accounted for 1% of positive tests sampled.
New Jersey has reported 1,979,452 total confirmed COVID-19 cases out of more than 17.6 million PCR tests conducted in the more than two years since the state reported its first known case March 4, 2020.
The Garden State has also recorded 320,955 positive antigen or rapid tests, which are considered probable cases. And there are numerous cases that have likely never been counted, including at-home positive tests that are not included in the state’s numbers.
The state of 9.2 million residents has reported 33,517 COVID-19 deaths in that time — 30,465 confirmed fatalities and 3,052 probable.
New Jersey has the eighth-most coronavirus deaths per capita in the U.S. — behind Mississippi, Arizona, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Arkansas — as of the latest data reported Monday. Last summer, the state still had the most deaths per capita in the country.
The latest numbers follow a major study that reveals even a mild case of COVID-19 can significantly affect the brain. Long COVID — the term commonly used to describe symptoms stemming from the virus long after a person no longer tests positive — has been found to affect between 10% and 30% of those who contract the infection, regardless of whether they have a mild or serious case.
More than 6.88 million of the 8.46 million eligible people who live, work or study in New Jersey have received the initial course of vaccinations and more than 7.79 million have received a first dose since vaccinations began here on Dec. 15, 2020.
More than 3.67 million people in the state eligible for boosters have received one.
For the week ending May 1, with about 59% of schools reporting data, another 4,928 COVID-19 cases were reported among staff (1,312) and students (3,616) across New Jersey’s schools.
Since the start of the academic year, there have been 111,905 students and 32,428 school staff members who have contracted COVID-19 in New Jersey, though the state has never had more than two-thirds of the school districts reporting data in any week.
The state provides total student and staff cases separately from those deemed to be in-school transmission, which is narrowly defined as three or more cases linked through contact tracing.
New Jersey has reported 653 total in-school outbreaks, including 4,538 cases among students and staff. That includes 20 new outbreaks from data reported last week.
At least 9,049 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 were active outbreaks at 257 facilities, resulting in 2,867 current cases among residents and 2,638 cases among staff, as of the latest data.
As of Wednesday, there have been more than 518 million COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 6.2 million people having died due to the virus.
The U.S. has reported the most cases (more than 82 million) and deaths (at least 998,078) of any nation.
There have been more than 11 billion vaccine doses administered globally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Deion Johnson may be reached at djohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @DeionRJohhnson
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