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Latest coronavirus updates in New Jersey: Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Virus Outbreak New Jersey
Posted at 5:06 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 22:02:18-05

NEW JERSEY — Below you will find the most up-to-date information on coronavirus news impacting New Jersey. You can find additional resources and coverage on our coronavirus page.

1 p.m.
Gov. Phil Murphy held a coronavirus briefing. Watch the news conference below or click here.
Public health emergency

  • Murphy is signing an executive order extending the public health emergency for another 30 days.
  • Extending this declaration means the state can continue its ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts while also vaccinating residents as quickly and safely as possible.

Parents back in the stands
"Shoutout to all the schools who worked safely to welcome parents back into your gyms and rinks to cheer on their student-athletes," Murphy said. "I’m confident that school leaders and athletic directors will continue to ensure that parents can safely attend these sporting events."

Vaccines update
1,470,491 total vaccine doses have been administered as of Wednesday morning.

  • 1,058,573 first doses
  • 412,118 second doses
  • "Each day, these numbers both move upwards by several tens of thousands. We’re making consistent progress," Murphy said.

Testing

  • Murphy encouraged residents to continue to get tested for COVID-19 even with the rollout of the vaccine.
  • Accurate testing plays a critical role in the state's ability to reopen the economy and relax restrictions as well as track and stop outbreaks.

Small business assistance

  • New Jersey EDA’s small and micro business PPE Access Program continues.
  • Financial assistance is available for businesses with up to 100 employees.
  • Business owners can save up to 70% on PPE purchases.
  • For more information, visit covid19.nj.gov/ppeaccess.

COVID-19 exposure notifications

  • Residents can find out about possible COVID-19 exposures via the state’s mobile app.
  • The app is available in 10 languages and now features more efficient data presentations.
  • To download the app, visit covid19.nj.gov/app.

Daily indicators

  • 3,786 new positive PCR tests on Tuesday
  • 673,108 total PCR tests since March
  • 709 new positive antigen tests on Tuesday
  • 82,066 total antigen tests
  • 2,370 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide
  • 411 patients in ICUs
  • 309 ventilators in use
  • 301 COVID-19 patients discharged from the hospital Tuesday
  • 253 COVID-positive patients admitted to the hospital Tuesday
  • The positivity rate for all 18,835 PCR tests recorded on Feb. 13 was 10.80%.
  • The statewide rate of transmission is 0.91.
  • 92 new COVID-19 deaths reported Tuesday
  • 20,343 total deaths since March
  • 2,289 additional probable deaths

COVID variants

  • Murphy urged resident not to travel to South Africa or Brazil due to the COVID-19 variants discovered in those countries.
  • The governor added that residents shouldn't travel at all, but especially not to those two areas.
  • Murphy said the question of how COVID variants will impact New Jersey case numbers and hospitalizations is giving him pause on reopening more of the economy and loosening restrictions.

QnA
Was the public’s expectations set too high when it comes to vaccine availability?

  • Murphy: I don’t think the expectation is too high but there’s no question there’s a supply-demand imbalance.

Why are cases/hospitalizations going down but the rate of transmission going up?

  • Murphy: I think the difference between a seven-day average of RT and one-day hospitalization or case rate plays a role.

Explain how the administration calculates nursing home deaths vs. nursing home deaths in hospitals? How can the public be reassured that underreporting isn’t going on?

  • Perschilli: The deaths are categorized by residence, so they are “definitely” categorized as a nursing home death.

Will vaccine megasites will close Thursday because of the expected snowstorm? Will appointments be rescheduled?

  • NJ State Police Supt. Pat Callahan: Burlington and Morris counties will be closed but we’re leaving the decision on whether to close up to individual sites.
  • Murphy: Residents can visit covid19.nj.gov/pages/vaccine to find out whether a site is closed due to weather.

What reopening updates are being planned?

  • Murphy: I think if we continue to see progress with hospitalizations, there’s no question we’ll take more steps to open up. I don’t know what they are or when they will be, but I will add that I think we’ll be more cautious on what steps we take in an effort to not have to roll back reopening progress later down the line.

Latest official numbers:
As of Wednesday, there have been 673,108 confirmed cases in the state since March, and there have been 20,343 lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths, according to the state Health Department.

To find the nearest free COVID-19 testing location, click here.

Tips to protect yourself and others amid coronavirus outbreaks.

Call New Jersey's coronavirus hotline at 1-800-222-1222. You can also click here for additional information