Will COVID Variant Derail Plans for a Normal Summer in NJ?
New Jersey is seeing some of the lowest COVID-19 metrics since the start of the pandemic more than 15 months ago. Its an encouraging sign as we move into a summer season with few restrictions.
The state reported fewer than 200 (183) new COVID cases on Sunday. Hospitalizations have dropped below 400 (377). While the rate of transmission has increased slightly to .90, anything below 1.0 indicates a contraction of the outbreak. The state added three additional deaths due to COVID complications on Sunday, for a total of 23,645 since the start of the outbreak.
There remains concern over the rise of COVID mutations. The 'Delta Variant' (B.1.617.2) has become the dominant strain in parts of Europe, including the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson concedes he may pause reopening due to the rise in Delta cases. Medical experts say Delta is fast becoming the dominant strain in the United States, and warn of a surge cases in states with low vaccination rates. 10% of the confirmed infections nationwide are the Delta mutation, but the number of infections is doubling every two weeks. The CDC says current vaccines do provide a high level of protection from serious illness from all known variants.
Delta is present in New Jersey, but according to the state's COVID dashboard, accounts for only 3.1% of all cases. New Jersey has among the highest vaccination rates in the nation. With fewer hosts available to infect, the chances of COVID mutations spreading is lessened. 4,553,228 New Jersey residents have been fully vaccinated. While vaccination rates have been falling among the adult population, they have been rising among kids between the ages of 12 and 17. More than 350,000 adolescents have received two doses of vaccine.
The CDC, meanwhile, will meet this week to explore a possible link between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and inflammation of the heart in younger people. There have been 226 confirmed cases in people under the age of 30. Medical experts are relatively confidant there is a link, but say the risk of an inflamed heart is outweighed by the benefits of being vaccinated.