The number of confirmed positive COVID cases in New Jersey has been trending down for the past four days but the latest modeling indicates hospitalizations will continue to rise and we may not hit the peak for this latest COVID wave driven by the omicron variant until sometime in February.

New modeling

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said we currently have a little more than 6,000 hospitalizations and based on what we know right now, “we expect increases in hospitalizations to reach about 8,000 probably by the end of the 3rd week in January going into the first week in February.”

“The peak actually could occur sometime in the first two weeks of February before there’s a downturn. We do believe we are going to have high levels for a couple of weeks.”

Cases are starting to drop

Last Friday, New Jersey had 33,459 new COVID cases, the number dropped to 29,564 on Saturday, it went to 26,615 on Sunday and during the coronavirus update on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced 21,691 new cases.

“The rate of transmission has started to inch down. God willing that is the beginning of something but I don’t know that we know enough to be able to say that,” he said.

Persichilli said the trend is positive and hopefully it will continue but “we do expect cases to stay at 20,000 to 30,000 for the duration of January.”

Cases, hospitalizations, deaths

COVID cases peak first, followed by hospitalizations seven to 14 days later. A week or two after that is when deaths happen.

“Omicron is a funny variant that shoots way up then, like in South Africa came down just as quickly, we can only hope that occurs," Persichilli said.

Murphy said the current number of hospitalizations in New Jersey is nearly four times the number one month ago, when 1,531 COVID patients were being treated in Garden State hospitals, while ICU and the number of patients on ventilators has almost doubled since Christmas.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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