TRENTON – There are early but encouraging signs the omicron-fueled surge of coronavirus infections in New Jersey may have peaked.

The number of positive COVID tests in New Jersey reported by laboratories, both PCR and antigen combined, has averaged 27,870 over the last week, the least since Jan. 10. The average is down nearly 4,000 a day, or 12%, since the weekly average peaked on Monday.

The trend in positive tests reported by labs has been even more pronounced over the last four days, averaging 23,853, down 37% from the 35,178 it averaged in the four days ending Jan. 8.

“A little bit of good news,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at an unrelated bill-signing event Thursday.

“Twenty thousand something new cases. That’s not good news,” he said. “Another unfathomable day of loss of life, 117 confirmed deaths today. But our hospitalizations have begun to go down a little bit.”

COVID-related hospitalizations as of Wednesday night totaled 5,933 – down 155 from one day earlier. The total hadn’t dropped from a day earlier since Dec. 16 and has now done so just three times since Thanksgiving.

A record 915 people with COVID were discharged from hospitals Wednesday, more than offsetting the 827 new patients who are infected. There were also 96 hospital-reported COVID deaths in the 24 hours ending Wednesday night.

“Spot positivity rate is still over 30%. The rate of transmission has started to come down,” Murphy said. “I think that’s a little bit of early signs of hopefully some better moments and better days.”

The number of patients in intensive care dropped from 919 to 907, which since mid-November had only happened a few times, always around major holidays. The number on ventilators dropped slightly, from 550 to 547, but is still near its recent peak.

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Almost one-third of all the known COVID infections since the start of the pandemic have been reported by labs in the last month, around 632,000 out of 1.94 million.

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

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