NJ assesses high COVID activity level for first time since April

TRENTON – Statewide COVID-19 activity level in New Jersey is high for the first time in four months, according to the state Department of Health.

After 21 weeks of assessment for moderate condition, the weekly COVID-19 activity level report for the period ending September 18 moved the rating to high.

The change reflects an increase in COVID activity in the southwestern region of the state, covering Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties. This area has become elevated due to an increase in the number of people coming to the emergency room with COVID-like symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Last fall, the activity level peaked in the week of November 14 and stayed there for 22 of the following 23 weeks, finally returning to a moderate level the week of April 24.

The CALI report divides the state into six regions and measures the rate of cases, the rate of positive tests, and the rate of COVID-like illness. Three regions are now classified as high – the Center-East, South-East and South-West – and the other three are classified as moderate.

Nine of those 18 measures were actually down from the previous week, including percentage positivity rates across all six regions.

Case rates in the state have increased slightly but only moderately, which is reflected in the state’s transmission rate estimated by the health department at 1.04. Basically, this reflects that COVID infections have increased by around 4% over the past week to reach 10 days.

On Saturday, the state’s health department reported an additional 2,200 confirmed cases and 494 probable cases. There have been 996,378 confirmed cases reported in the state since the start of the pandemic, and the total is expected to cross the one million case threshold within two or three days.

The nonprofit COVID Act Now coalition says New Jersey’s case rate over the past week stands at 24.4 cases per 100,000 residents. It is the fourth lowest among the 50 states, ahead of only Connecticut, Maryland and California.

The state health department reported 17 more laboratory-confirmed COVID deaths on Saturday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 24,550 confirmed deaths and 2,773 probable COVID-related deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s state-level death totals, compared to the 2020 census state population counts, New Jersey has the third highest COVID death rate in the country since it began of the pandemic.

Mississippi’s death rate surpassed that of New Jersey on September 5. Louisiana’s death rate topped it last Thursday.

Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].

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