TRENTON – The number of New Jerseyans hospitalized due to COVID-19 increased by nearly 300 Monday after climbing almost 200 Sunday, repeating a pattern common after major holidays.

There were 2,979 people in New Jersey hospitalized Monday night with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections, up from 2,460 on Saturday, according to the state Department of Health dashboard. That's a 21% increase in two days.

All 71 hospitals reported data Monday, which may partially explain why the increase was larger than Monday's report that was missing two hospitals – along, obviously, with the impact of the omicron variant.

The total is the most since Feb. 3, at the back end of last winter’s COVID wave that had peaked in late December with 3,873 people hospitalized. It remains far below the crisis level from early in the pandemic, when more than 8,000 were hospitalized with COVID in mid-April 2020.

Over the last month, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations in New Jersey has more than tripled, from 893 on Nov. 27 to 2,979 on Dec. 27.

It seems as if people resist going to the hospital, or push to be discharged, around holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then after spending the holiday at home, more seek medical help.

The number of discharges from New Jersey hospitals jumped in the days leading up to and including Christmas, then dropped by 40% on Sunday. Total hospitalizations rose, though more slowly than they had leading up to the holiday.

Similarly, the number hospitalized had declined on the day before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving itself, then began climbing on Friday, Nov. 26.

The same pattern occurred in 2020. The number of COVID hospitalizations was 2,902 on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – then dipped below 2,800 by Thanksgiving itself, as the number of discharges rose more than 50% over the next few days. A day after Thanksgiving, hospitalizations started rising.

Three days before Christmas 2020, there were 3,873 hospitalized due to COVID. By Christmas, that figure dropped to 3,464. On Dec. 28, 2020, it had rebounded to 3,765 but then began to decline.

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In all, about 10,000 new COVID infections were announced by the state Monday, including 8,831 confirmed by PCR tests and 1,214 probable cases detected by antigen tests. Those figures may have been held down by the processing of tests over the holiday weekend, as nearly 16,000 PCR and antigen positives were announced Tuesday.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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