As pandemic recedes, NJ’s hospital workers are still getting sick — and dying — from COVID
Taken from NorthJersey.com
Lindy Washburn, NorthJersey.com
May 10, 2021
As COVID cases spiked earlier this year and began to wane in the spring, New Jersey hospital workers remained at high risk of contracting the virus.
More than 5,400 were infected in the first four months of 2021, according to new data released by the state, and at least one North Jersey nurse died in recent weeks.
“These people are putting their neck on the line here, and still sustaining infections,” said Reynald Panettieri, director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science and co-author of two studies on COVID among health care workers.
Panettieri’s research found that, at the peak of the pandemic last year, hospital workers were two to three times more likely to become infected with COVID than non-health care workers.
“The infection rates are far better than they were in March of last year,” Panettieri said of the new state data, “but they’re still significant.”
Not all workers were infected on the job, however. And the hospitals — on whom the state relied for the new data — claim that the vast majority became infected through other activities or contacts.
The new data was released by the state Health Department four months after Gov. Phil Murphy said the public had “a right to know” about outbreaks within medical institutions.
The new page on the Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, however, identifies no outbreaks.
It simply shows the number of cases at each hospital within the last 30 days: 13 at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson as of Friday, for example, and eight at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. Without indicating whether the cases are connected or where the staff members work within the hospital, it’s impossible to interpret their significance.
From a statewide high of 162 total staff cases shown on Jan. 5, the number appears to have dropped as vaccination became more common.