TRENTON – New Jersey health officials announced a record-high number of known new COVID-19 infections Friday.

The 8,089 new cases include 6,260 confirmed by PCR testing and 1,829 detected by antigen tests. Subtracting out past duplicate cases and people whose antigen positives were confirmed by PCR tests, the total number of cases jumped 7,397 from a day earlier.

“Let me just say, without any amount of joy, the pandemic is still in our midst and unfortunately still raging,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at an event in Newark unrelated to COVID.

“This thing is still with us, and sadly the numbers are going up,” he said. “The sequencing for this disease and virus lags the actual anecdotal evidence. While omicron is listed as a small percentage of cases right now in New Jersey, I’m here to tell you it’s much more prevalent than that and not just in New Jersey – in the whole Northeast and especially the metro New York area.”

The daily totals include 658 confirmed and 140 suspected cases in Bergen County and 783 confirmed and 76 suspected cases in Essex County, the all-time single-day highs for known cases in two of the counties bordering New York City.

The data for the early days of the pandemic doesn’t accurately reflect how many people were sick at the time, due to testing shortages, so it’s likely that the virus was more widespread in the spring of 2020.

The state Department of Health’s COVID dashboard shows 1,748 patients are hospitalized with COVID. That’s down slightly from a day earlier for the first time in 15 days – but one fewer hospital reported its data to the state, so it’s unclear if the number truly declined.

There are 341 COVID patients in intensive care and 165 on ventilators. Murphy said 250 COVID patients entered the hospitals in the last 24 hours. The dashboard shows 248 were discharged.

The state is reporting an additional 16 confirmed COVID-related deaths, which remains around the recent average.

“This pandemic, and I say this with the heaviest of hearts and no glee, is going to get worse before it gets better,” Murphy said.

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New York has adopted a new mask mandate for indoor places without vaccination requirements, and Philadelphia is instituting vaccine mandates for its bars, restaurants, indoor sporting events and movie theaters – eventually without a testing exception – next month.

Murphy said earlier this week there aren’t plans for a similar rule in New Jersey at this point.

“We think what we’ve got in place meets the moment in terms of masking and what New York is doing, but that’s something that we will – obviously, all options stay on the table,” Murphy said Monday.

NJBIZ reported that Murphy told reporters after his event in Newark that he fears capacity limits could return.

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

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