With COVID numbers continuing their sharp decline in New Jersey, Rutgers University said classes will resume in person starting on Jan. 31, and that employees will be able resume their duties in person as well on that date.
The return to student housing will take place on Jan. 29 and 30.
The decision was prompted by the continued dramatic drop in the number of COVID hospitalizations and cases during the current wave of the pandemic, which was fueled in part by the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant through the state.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID dropped overnight Saturday for the 11th consecutive day, to 4,167 — 344 fewer than the prior day and a 32% decline from the peak of the current wave on Jan. 11. It was the fewest hospitalizations since Dec. 31.
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There were 727 patients needing intensive care, down 21% from a peak of 919 on Jan. 11, and there were 477 needing ventilators to breathe, down 15% from the peak of 560 on Jan. 16.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Sunday that there were 13 more confirmed deaths related to COVID-19. That brings the total number of New Jerseyans who died in the pandemic to 30,759.
Murphy also announced Sunday that there were 8,816 new COVID infections confirmed through PCR tests and 992 through antigen tests. New COVID cases have hovered below 11,000 a day for the past seven days, and they are well below the peak of the current wave, which was more than 33,000 on Jan. 7.
Outbreaks of COVID in long-term care settings remains an issue. There are 560 nursing homes with outbreaks in New Jersey, involving infections among 10,512 residents and 12,804 staff.
The worst outbreak has been at Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center, formerly Andover Subacute II, in Sussex County, with 248 cases among residents, 131 cases among staff and 11 deaths among residents.
The three state-run veterans homes, hit hard during the initial wave of the pandemic in April 2020, are again facing serious outbreaks. The home in Menlo Park has 42 infections among residents and 135 among staff, with six resident deaths. The Paramus home has 57 cases among residents and 121 among staff, with three resident deaths. The home in Vineland has 15 resident infections and 167 among staff, with two resident deaths.
Other facilities with large outbreaks include:
Bayside Manor in Keansburg, with 46 resident infections, 55 staff infected and 12 resident deaths;
Sinai Post-Acute Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Newark, with 178 resident cases and 67 staff cases, along with one resident death;
Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne, with 59 resident cases, 147 staff cases and one resident death;
Alaris Health at Hamilton Park in Jersey City, with 77 resident cases, 47 staff cases and six resident deaths;
Willow Springs Rehab and Health Care Center in Brick, with 51 resident cases, 39 staff cases and nine resident deaths;
Hackensack Meridian Health Nursing and Rehabilitation in Red Bank, with 81 resident cases, 47 staff cases and five resident deaths.
Complete Care at Kresson View in Voorhees, with 74 resident illnesses, 36 staff illnesses and five deaths;
Riverfront Rehabilitation Health Center in Pennsauken, with 40 resident cases, 36 staff cases and five resident deaths;
Hudsonview Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care in North Bergen, with 105 resident illnesses, 56 staff illnesses and one resident death;
Hunterdon Care Center in Raritan Township, with 65 resident illnesses, 36 staff illnesses and six resident deaths;
Morris View Health Care Center in Morris Township, with 94 resident cases, 57 staff cases and four resident deaths;
Lincoln Park Care Center, with 85 resident illnesses and 109 staff illnesses.
Rutgers continues to require all employees to be vaccinated and to obtain and upload proof of a vaccine booster by Jan. 31, or when otherwise eligible, or to have an approved medical or religious exemption.
The university is requiring that all vaccinated students obtain a booster vaccination by Jan. 31, or as soon as eligible. Eligibility for a booster is defined as six months after the last Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two months after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Students with approved medical or religious exemptions are excused from the booster requirement.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Rutgers to resume in-person classes as NJ COVID numbers decline