TRENTON – COVID infections are back on the rise in New Jersey, for the first time in 10 weeks.

It remains to be seen whether the pandemic is just leveling off, a weather-driven data quirk is working through the system or the new BA.2 variant of the coronavirus is going to lead to another wave.

With Tuesday's data update from the state Department of Health, New Jersey’s 7-day average of new lab-detected COVID infections was 20% higher than it had been a week earlier.

Over the last week, the number of PCR-confirmed and antigen-flagged cases averaged 1,012 – topping 1,000 for the first time since March 12.

With Monday’s data update, the 7-day average had increased from a week earlier for the first time since Jan. 11.

The average could be in position to decline tomorrow, when last Wednesday’s unusually large number of new infections – including 1,551 from PCR tests, the most in a day since Feb. 18 – drops out of the formula.

The number of new cases added between Sunday, March 13 and Tuesday, March 15 declined more steeply than they had been dropping, as a winter storm on Saturday, March 12 kept more people at home and shrank the number of people getting tested that weekend. Those caught up on March 16.

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Though two hospitals didn’t report data by the Monday night deadline, the data shows a continued easing of COVID-related illnesses requiring that level of care: 392 hospitalizations, including 75 patients in intensive care, among whom 43 are on ventilators.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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