New Jersey on Saturday reported another four COVID-19 deaths and 2,729 confirmed positive tests as the federal Food and Drug administration plans to begin reviewing vaccines for children this summer.

The FDA set tentative dates in June to publicly review vaccines for the youngest American children, typically the final step before authorizing the shots.

New Jersey’s seven-day average for confirmed cases increased to 2,133 on Saturday, up 21% from a week ago, and up 147% from a month ago. The state has reported more than 2,000 cases each of the last four days.

There were 466 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across 70 of the state’s 71 hospitals as of Friday night. One hospital did not report data.

Hospitalizations have been increasing in recent weeks, though they remain significantly lower than when they peaked at 6,089 on Jan. 10 during the omicron wave that spread across the state this past winter.

There were at least 97 people discharged in that same 24-hour period ending Friday night, according to state data. Of those hospitalized, 48 were in intensive care and 19 were on ventilators.

New Jersey’s statewide transmission rate was 1.14 on Saturday. When the transmission rate is over 1, that means each new case is leading to at least one additional case and the outbreak is expanding.

The positivity rate for tests conducted on Monday, the most recent day with available data, was 6.65%.

The state on Saturday also reported 626 probable cases from rapid antigen testing at medical sites.

Nearly all of New Jersey’s 21 counties were listed as having “low” rates of transmission, according to recently updated guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After months of all 21 counties being listed as “low,” Bergen and Morris counties have been elevated to “medium” transmission. Healthy people in the low and medium areas are no longer recommended to wear masks.

The BA.2 strain of COVID-19 has been spreading in New Jersey for weeks, though at much lower rates than the omicron surge in December and January. Officials have said the omicron “stealth” subvariant appears to spread more easily but generally does not cause more severe illness.

For the week ending April 9, BA.2 accounted for 88.9% of the positive tests sampled (up from 87.3% the previous week), while the omicron variant accounted for 5.5% of positive tests sampled.

TOTAL NUMBERS

New Jersey has reported 1,948,819 total confirmed COVID cases out of more than 17.5 million PCR tests conducted in the more than two years since the state reported its first known case March 4, 2020.

The Garden State has also recorded 312,875 positive antigen or rapid tests, which are considered probable cases. And there are numerous cases that have likely never been counted, including at-home positive tests that are not included in the state’s numbers.

The state of 9.2 million residents has reported 33,429 COVID-19 deaths in that time – 30,395 confirmed fatalities and 3,034 probable.

New Jersey has the eighth-most coronavirus deaths per capita in the US – behind Mississippi, Arizona, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Arkansas – as of the latest data reported Monday. Last summer, the state still had the most deaths per capita in the country.

The latest numbers follow a major study that reveals even a mild case of COVID-19 can significantly affect the brain. Long COVID – the term commonly used to describe symptoms stemming from the virus long after a person no longer tests positive – has been found to affect between 10% and 30% of those who contract the infection, regardless of whether they have a mild or serious case.

VACCINATION NUMBERS

More than 6.85 million of the 8.46 million eligible people who live, work or study in New Jersey have received the initial course of vaccinations and more than 7.77 million have received a first dose since vaccinations began here on Dec. 15, 2020.

More than 3.5 million people in the state eligible for boosters have received one.

SCHOOL AND LONGTERM CARE NUMBERS

For the week ending April 17, with about 29% of schools reporting data, another 1,504 COVID-19 cases were reported among staff (451) and students (1,053) across New Jersey’s schools.

Since the start of the academic year, there have been 106,277 students and 30,270 school staff members who have contracted COVID-19 in New Jersey, though the state has never had more than two-thirds of the school districts reporting data in any week.

The state provides total student and staff cases separately from those deemed to be in-school transmission, which is narrowly defined as three or more cases linked through contact tracing.

New Jersey has reported 621 total in-school outbreaks, including 4,372 cases among students and staff. That includes 25 new outbreaks from data reported last week.

At least 8,994 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to state data.

There were active outbreaks at 179 facilities, resulting in 2,191 current cases among residents and 2,442 cases among staff, as of the latest data.

GLOBAL NUMBERS

As of Saturday, there have been more than 513 million COVID-19 cases reported across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 6.2 million people having died due to the virus.

The US has reported the most cases (more than 81 million) and deaths (at least 993,611) of any nation.

There have been more than 11 billion vaccine doses administered globally.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Deion Johnson may be reached at djohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @DeionRJohhnson

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