The Delta mutation is getting the blame for a spike in new positive COVID tests in New Jersey and a surge in cases nationwide.

State health officials say it now accounts for 75% of all new cases in the Garden State. Scientists say it has shown some resistance to vaccine and New Jersey has documented over 5,000 breakthrough infections they believe are Delta cases.

Delta, however, is not the only mutation that has been detected in New Jersey. The Alpha variant now accounts for 10.3% of all new tests. This is the strain that led to new lockdowns in the U.K. and other parts of Europe. Although most restrictions have now been lifted in England.

New Jersey has also identified a small number of cases attributed to the Gamma and Iota COVID mutations.

Here is a breakdown of the "variants of concern" that have been identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have been confirmed present in New Jersey:

  • Delta - First detected in the U.S. in March of 2021. Believed to have originated in India. The Delta variant is the most prevalent mutation in both the U.S. and New Jersey. It's high transmission rate has spurred the CDC to issue new mask mandates. Current vaccines are believed to be highly effective are preventing serious illness and death.
  • Alpha - First detected in the U.S. in December of 2020. Believed to have originated in the United Kingdom. Scientists believe current vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and death. However, this strain of COVID has been noted to cause more serious illness and has an increased rate of hospitalization and death.
  • Gamma - First detected in the U.S. in January of 2021. Believed to have originated in Brazil, but has also been detected in Japan. It now accounts for 3.7% of all new positive tests in New Jersey. Scientists believe current vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and death.
  • Iota - Believed to have originated in New York City. It now accounts for 1.7% of all new positive tests in New Jersey. There was initially greater concern about this mutation due to a handful of deaths being attributed to it in our area, but infection rates have not increased significantly in New Jersey or other parts of the U.S.
NJ Department of Health
NJ Department of Health

The CDC has identified other mutations as well. They include Beta, Epsilon, Eta, Kappa and Lambda. Of those four, Beta is the greatest concern. It was first detected in South Africa and then in the U.S. last January. There have not been any significant transmissions of these variants in New Jersey.

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NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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