Another daily jump in COVID cases among staff and patients keeps pressure on NJ hospitals

·3 min read

Another 780 COVID infections were detected among hospital staff in New Jersey on Wednesday, the second highest daily total since the pandemic began. That, combined with another overnight increase in COVID hospitalizations — to nearly 5,600 — continues the pincer-like pressure that has stressed the state's hospitals in recent weeks.

And the state reported on Thursday 106 new COVID related deaths — the highest single day count since February 2021. The daily total of deaths reported does not necessarily mean all of those deaths occurred the day before. But over the past three days, New Jersey has reported a combined 243 new COVID deaths.

That brings the total number of confirmed or probable deaths related to COVID to 29,315 in New Jersey since the pandemic began in March 2020.

There have been 2,924 new COVID infections among staff at the state's 71 hospitals over the past five days, and 6,140 over the past 10 days. When workers test positive, they must isolate for five days, making it harder for hospitals to care for the growing influx of newly hospitalized patients.

The one-day jump in patients admitted with COVID to 5,598 marks a nearly 130% rise since Christmas and a more than sixfold increase since Thanksgiving, driven in part by the quick spread of the omicron variant — what Gov. Phil Murphy has called the "Omicron Tsunami."

But omicron is not completely to blame, since its symptoms are not as severe as the delta variant, which had been the dominant strain in New Jersey for much of the summer and early fall. Of those hospitalized with COVID on Wednesday, 746 needed intensive care, up from 202 on Dec. 1, and 378 needed a ventilator to help them breathe, up from 105 at the start of December.

The silver lining is that patients admitted with COVID now are by and large staying for a briefer period than during the earlier waves of the pandemic, are recovering faster, and are are less likely to die from the disease.

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Still, the growing number of hospital workers who must quarantine because they have tested positive for COVID makes it that much harder to care for the growing wave of patients. As a result, the state has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send strike teams of medical staff to supplement the depleted staff at some of New Jersey's hospitals, and has asked the National Guard to help out similarly reduced staff at nursing homes.

There are COVID outbreaks at 491 long-term care facilities in the state, with COVID infections among 4,374 residents and 7,315 staff.

Murphy announced Thursday evening that 150 National Guardsmen are undergoing training and will be deployed to nursing homes starting Monday. They will help residents with getting from bed to chair, with walking, with dressing and with daily hygiene, and will help set up meals and feed residents, as well as test and screen staff, residents and visitors.

The largest outbreak is at the Woodland and Behavioral and Nursing Center, formerly Andover Subacute II, in Sussex County, with 169 cases among residents, 101 cases among staff, and three deaths among residents.

But other facilities are also seeing significant outbreaks. The state-run Paramus Veterans Home has seen 10 cases among residents and 80 among staff, with two recent resident deaths. The state-run veterans home in Vineland has seen 10 cases among residents and 83 among staff, with another two resident deaths, while the veterans home in Menlo Park has 19 resident cases and 71 staff cases.

Sinai Post-Acute Nursing and Rehab in Newark has 97 cases among residents and 52 among staff, with one resident death. And Preakness Heathcare Center in Wayne has three resident cases and 79 cases among staff.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ COVID cases in hospitals continue to spike among staff, patients

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