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33,459 COVID cases, 63 deaths. in NJ, New restrictions ‘highly unlikely,’

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JERSEY CITY, NJ -New Jersey on Friday reported another 63 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and a new single-day record of 33,459 confirmed positive cases, while hospitalizations continued to edge higher after 10 straight days with at least 20,000 cases.

The state’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive tests is now 27,487, up 52% from a week ago and 722% from a month ago as the globe continues to face a new surge driven in large part by the omicron variant of the virus.

Omicron accounted for 40% of positive tests sampled for the the week ending Dec. 18, the most recent available, in New Jersey. That coincides with the sharp increase in cases that began in mid-December.

The uptick comes as more people are getting tested than ever before. Officials also say there are signs that while omicron is much more contagious, it may lead to more asymptomatic or less severe cases than previous strains.

Officials say hospitalizations are an important metric to watch because only a portion of people who catch the virus develop severe cases. The goal, officials say, is to prevent hospitals from becoming overstressed and running out of space to care for critically ill patients.

Officials say vaccinated people are less likely to contract the virus and much less likely to develop life-threatening cases. But officials are calling on more people to get booster shots because the effectiveness of vaccination wanes over time.

About 46% of New Jersey’s eligible population has received booster shots, which Murphy said Monday is too low.

All of New Jersey’s 21 counties are listed as having “high” rates of coronavirus transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency is recommending that all people in high transmission counties wear masks for indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.

Anyone 16 and older in the U.S. who has received their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at least six months ago is eligible to get a booster shot. The Pfizer booster eligibility was recently reduced to five months. Anyone 16 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also eligible for a booster two months after their single shot. In most situations, the CDC said, it recommends the Pfizer and Moderna boosters.

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