TRENTON – State health officials announced 79 new lab-confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 in their Tuesday coronavirus data update, the most in a day in New Jersey since mid-March.

The one-day total appears to have been skewed by the New Year’s holiday weekend, as the count is catching up after just three additional deaths were confirmed Sunday and 12 Monday. But the 7-day average is now 34 a day over the last week, the most since late April.

The state Department of Health reported an additional 25,277 new COVID infections confirmed by PCR tests and 5,137 probable cases detected by antigen tests. Removing past duplicates and people whose antigen positives are now PCR confirmed, the total combined case count is up 29,614 from a day earlier.

Nearly 19% of all New Jersey’s known positive COVID infections in the pandemic have been recorded in the last two weeks – around 313,000 of 1.675 million. That includes 18.5% of cases confirmed by PCR tests and 20.3% of cases detected by antigen tests. It doesn’t include most at-home test results.

One of every 30 New Jersey residents, 3.4%, have tested positive for COVID in the last two weeks.

Data compiled by the nonprofit CovidActNow shows New Jersey currently has the nation’s second-highest rate of infection among the states, averaging 307.5 cases a day for every 100,000 residents. New York is the only state that’s higher, though Puerto Rico also has a slightly higher rate.

New Jersey hospitals reported 5,155 COVID patients as of Monday night. That’s up by 438 from Sunday night’s count, despite the discharges of 425 patients with COVID and the deaths of 46 others.

The total includes 686 patients in intensive care, the most since the last day of 2020. It includes 335 patients on ventilators – a figure that has tripled in three weeks, though not up nearly as steeply as overall hospitalizations and ICU use have trended.

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Amid the impact of the omicron variant of the virus, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that on Saturday he formally asked legislative leaders to extend his administration’s emergency powers an additional 90 days beyond Jan. 11 in areas such as vaccines, testing and mask mandates in schools.

The Legislature would have to pass a resolution agreeing to the extension by noon Tuesday in order for it to take effect. Some Republicans have already expressed their opposition, though as the minority party in Trenton they could not block the extension unless enough Democrats agreed.

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

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