New Jersey has hit the half-million mark in confirmed coronavirus cases as the state looks to expand the types of people getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced more than 5,000 new positive PCR tests Wednesday to bring the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 504,637. Another nearly 53,000 antigen tests have also been reported.
"More than 1 in 20 New Jerseyans have now tested positive," Murphy said.
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With more than 100 new deaths reported, at least 17,464 people have died from COVID-19-related complications. Another 2,059 probable COVID-19 deaths have been reported.
The latest rate of transmission was at 0.96 and the positivity rate on 14.96% on Jan. 2. As of late Tuesday, nearly 3,700 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, with nearly 700 in intensive care.
As Murphy and state health officials addressed the spread of coronavirus in New Jersey Wednesday, they also spoke about vaccinations of health care workers and people at long-term care facilities continuing while more frontline workers get vaccinated.
The first-term Democrat noted that he wishes vaccines were being given quicker, but that the federal government is only distributed so much vaccine and didn't offer help for administration. He noted that health officials believe there is a reporting lag and that more than the nearly 138,000 doses reported have been administered.
The state wants to get frontline workers and the most vulnerable people inoculated first.
Starting Thursday, firefighters and police officers will begin getting vaccine doses as the state enters Phase 1B. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted that frontline health care workers in Phase 1A continue to be vaccinated and can gin up on the state's portal.
As New Jersey looks to ramp up vaccinations, they could use help.
"New Jersey is actively looking for retired health care professionals with vaccination skills to volunteer with the New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps," Murphy said. "We need you."