COVID-19 Update- January 2023

By: Matt McGovern, MPH, CHES, LINCS COVID-19 Epidemiologist/Data Manager

As of Thursday, 12/29/22, the 7-day average of cases in the state of New Jersey was 1,809, which was down 11% from a week ago, but up 55% from a month ago. Cases are expected to rise due to the seasonal holiday gatherings. In addition, the statewide transmission rate was 1.08. Thus, this rate of transmission signifies that each new case is leading to more than one additional case. Additionally, Morris County is currently in the high level of COVID-19 community levels due to the higher case rate per 100,000 population in the county (more than 200 new cases per 100,000 population). Hospitalizations and deaths typically lag 3-4 weeks behind a rise in cases. Currently, CDC forecasts project that on 1/20/23, New Jersey will range between approximately 80 to 525 new hospital admissions. On 1/20/23, deaths are projected to be at approximately 45 to 195 new deaths. There are not COVID case forecasts available via the CDC website for New Jersey.

The COVID-19 cases in New Jersey continue to be solely attributed to the omicron variant, with its subvariants comprising all cases. According to the most recent COVID-19 Variant Surveillance Report (week ending December 10, 2022), BQ.1 is the most common omicron subvariant sequenced in the last four weeks (36%) in New Jersey followed by BQ.1.1 (26.4%), BA.5 (13.7%), XBB (12.5%), and BF.7 (4.9%). In the U.S.,  XBB.1.5, which is an offshoot of the XBB subvariant, is the predominant variant comprising 40.5% of cases.

More than 4.3 million people in New Jersey are “up to date” with their COVID-19 vaccinations, meaning that they received their primary series dose(s), and booster dose. For context, there are more than 8 million NJ residents who have received a first dose, and 7.1 million who are fully vaccinated (received a primary vaccination series). With the winter season underway it is important to get a COVID-19 bivalent booster dose, which combines the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein components with the first COVID vaccine (Wuhan spike protein variant), which was a monovalent vaccine. This bivalent vaccine will better protect from waning immunity by targeting variants that are more transmissible and immune evading. The CDC recommends that people ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, whether that was:

  • Their final primary series dose, or
  • An original (monovalent) booster
  • People who have gotten more than one original (monovalent) booster are also recommended to get an updated (bivalent) booster.

Additionally, being up to date with your flu vaccine is important as well. Currently, there is a large uptick in respiratory illnesses and emergency department visits due to Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Influenza, and COVID-19. This is impacting our pediatric age groups, as well as our elderly and those with immunocompromised conditions.

To learn more about COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, please see below for further resources:

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