New Mask Guidance For New Jersey As COVID Cases Surge

The CDC maintained mask recommendations for indoor, public settings in only four counties while COVID-19 incidences and hospitalizations in New Jersey continued to fall. However, the introduction of two new omicron subvariants may provide the Garden State with fresh difficulties.

In counties with “high” COVID-19 community levels—a rating based on hospitalization and case rates that the organization adopted in late February—the CDC advises masking. Each Thursday, the agency updates its COVID maps, which are color-coded.

The CDC advised masks this week in the counties of Morris, Monmouth, Atlantic, and Cape May. According to the organization, four counties—Warren, Hunterdon, Union, and Cumberland—are in the low category while the other nine have medium community levels.

Studies from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, of Harvard Medical School, and a different study from researchers at Columbia University show that the subvariants appear to evade antibody responses among both individuals who have had COVID and those who are completely vaccinated and boosted. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, BA.4 and BA.5 are the COVID strains that are now spreading the quickest and will soon predominate COVID transmission in both the United States and Europe.

However, the research indicates that the COVID immunizations still seem to offer significant protection against serious illness.

With 69.7% of cases for the week ending June 18 — the most recent week for which variation data is available from the CDC — BA.2.12.12.1 remained the most prevalent variant in the area. (Data on variant-proportion are divided into regions by the CDC. New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are all included in New Jersey’s area.)

However, BA.4 and BA.5 continue to spread faster than the other COVID strains that are now in circulation, increasing from a negligible presence one month ago to 25% of cases in the region of New Jersey, according to CDC statistics.

The overall number of hospital patients in the state who have confirmed or suspected COVID is, however, going down. As of Thursday, the New Jersey Department of Health had recorded 736 hospitalizations for the virus, down from the total of 791 the week before and the top of the spring wave on June 1 when there were 928 cases.

On Wednesday, state health officials recorded a transmission rate of 0.83. If the transmission rate is less than 1, it means that fewer infections result from each existing infection than from each new infection, which suggests that the virus is spreading more slowly.

According to government data, New Jersey averaged 2,790 new cases each day during the last week, a significant decrease from the month’s peak of 5,073 daily infections for the week ending May 24.

For American children aged 6 months to 4 years, the COVID vaccination was made accessible for the first time this week. For availability, check the COVID vaccination appointment scheduler in New Jersey.

Although young children are less likely than older age groups to be hospitalized or die with COVID, the CDC estimates that 1 in 3 children under the age of 18 who are admitted with the virus do not have any underlying medical issues.

At a White House press briefing on Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated, “Since January 2020, we have lost 215 children — each 6 months to 4 years — to COVID-19.” To put that into context, COVID-19 was the primary infectious cause of mortality in children between the ages of 0 and 19 from March 2020 to April 2022, ranking among the top five in each age group.

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