NJ leads nation in new COVID cases as hospitalizations rise above 2,000, again

New Jersey is seeing COVID-19 numbers trend in the wrong direction. The Garden State is now leading the U.S. in new cases per capita, and for the first time in a month, total hospitalizations are hovering above 2,000.

"We’re talking about almost a doubling of our COVID census in the last week compared to what we were seeing in the beginning of the month," says Dr. Shereef Elnahal, President & CEO of University Hospital.

Over the last week, New Jersey has averaged about 4,100 cases a day and 300 hospital admissions per day. In New York City, which has a similar-sized population, the daily caseload is plateauing around 3,400. The Big Apple is only experiencing about 150 hospitalizations per day, and that number is shrinking.

Dr. Elnahal said his staff and colleagues are worried they’re heading toward another surge, despite vaccines. He blames it on a disparity in one of New Jersey’s hardest-hit areas: Newark.

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"Unfortunately, Newark is not being vaccinated nearly as much as the rest of the state," said Dr. Elnahal. "We still have less than 5% of residents fully vaccinated."

Compare that to all of New Jersey, where more than 18% of the adult population is fully vaccinated and more than half have received at least one shot, according to state data.

This comes as Rutgers University is one of the first to announce that students who want to return to campus this Fall are required to get the vaccine. "We’re trying to create the safest campus in America. That is the bottom line," says Antonio Alcado, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Rutgers University, "and by extension, we create safer communities, we create a safer New Jersey and a safer tristate area."