In what may be the strongest indicator yet that the latest omicron fueled wave of COVID infections is waning, the state's rate of transmission (r/t) has dropped below 1.0.

According to data from the New Jersey Department of Health, the current rate of transmission is .96.

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An r/t below 1.0 means the outbreak is contracting. For example, 100 infected individuals will only transmit the virus to another 96. With an r/t of 1.55 last week, each 100 infected would infect another 155.

New Jersey is following a trend seen across the Northeastern states that seem to indicate infection rates have peaked, and are on the way down. Much of the rest of the nation is still seeing an increase.

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In addition to the drop in r/t, the CDC Data Tracker website shows a dramatic drop in county-by-county infection rates.

The CDC still lists the overall transmission level as high in all 21 counties.

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Union County has seen the biggest drop, with new infection down 50% over the last seven days.

Seven counties have seen their infection rates drop at least 40%. They include: Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic and Somerset.

In addition to the drop in the r/t, New Jersey reported only 9,073 new confirmed infections, a big drop from over 20,000 per day just a week ago.

Hospitalizations are also significantly down from a peak of more than 6,000 last week, to 5,251.

County-by-county drop in COVID infection rate:

  • Atlantic County 26%
  • Bergen County 40%
  • Burlington County 34%
  • Camden County 30%
  • Cape May County 26%
  • Cumberland County 12%
  • Essex County 43%
  • Gloucester County 23%
  • Hudson County 26%
  • Hunterdon County 36%
  • Mercer County 29%
  • Middlesex County 44%
  • Monmouth County 42%
  • Morris County 28%
  • Ocean County 36%
  • Passaic County 48%
  • Salem County 6%
  • Somerset County 43%
  • Sussex County 37%
  • Union County 50%
  • Warren County 34%

Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed optimism in recent days that the worst may be behind us, but his administration had projected the spike would continue into February.

As he took the oath of office to begin his second term on Tuesday, Murphy paused early in his inaugural speech for a moment of silence for the more than 30,000 state residents who have died due to the pandemic. And there were 3,000 small American flags in a field outside of the Trenton War Memorial, each representing about 10 of those who have died.

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