At least 134 people are lying in New Jersey hospital beds right now because of COVID-19 symptoms, according to statistics updated on Sunday by the state Department of Health.

The stranglehold of the pandemic has faded, but the presence of the virus that caused it is still very present in the Garden State.

Through early May, according to preliminary DOH statistics, New Jersey has already recorded 333 confirmed and probable COVID-associated deaths so far in 2024.

At the same time in 2023, the death tally was just below 500.

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"We do still see severe outcomes associated with COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths, but fortunately, we are seeing a decrease in these trends over the last couple of seasons," said Dr. Tina Tan, state epidemiologist with DOH.

Similar to other respiratory illnesses, COVID is expected to be more of a nuisance during the colder months. During the week that ended on Jan. 13 this year, New Jersey confirmed 54 COVID-associated deaths. One confirmed death and one probable case were recorded in New Jersey for the week that ended on May 4.

A death is considered "COVID-related" when one's death certificate lists the illness as an underlying cause or a significant condition contributing to death.

Individuals aged 80 and older account for nearly half of New Jersey's deaths so far this year.

Tan said downward trends can be attributed to immunity — either through vaccinations or previous illness — and effective antiviral treatment for those who are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The state's COVID dashboard cites more than 228,000 lab-confirmed cases in 2024. This number does not include at-home tests, and people may be testing less frequently due to dwindling concerns related to transmission.

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