Officials warn COVID-19 still a threat, despite decreasing cases in New Jersey

The world has entered the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while cases of the virus have decreased in New Jersey with the help of mass vaccination, the virus is by no means gone.
New Jersey reported just under 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday. And there is a slight uptick of the virus in state hospitals, with 481 patients being treated. This is up nearly 30 from Wednesday.
New Jersey’s rate of transmission now stands at .84.
But infections persist and there could be an increase in cases, just like what is happening in Europe right now. Germany has seen a 20% boost in cases, while the United Kingdom has seen a 27% increase over the last week.
“We generally follow what happens in the U.K. by two to three weeks,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci. “We better pay close attention to what goes on there.”
Fauci says this could impact the United States because travel restrictions have been eased. He says Americans also have “waning immunity.”
“We have to make sure that those people who’ve been vaccinated get boosted. Only about 50% of the people of those eligible to be vaccinated have gotten their boost,” he says.
New Jersey health officials have also voiced some concern.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a joint statement, “We are not going to manage COVID to zero nor are we impervious to the virus. We expect COVID to continue to mutate and cases to continue to ebb and flow. Moving to an endemic status still means we must all take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also closely watching the movement of what is known as BA2 – an Omicron subvariant. First detected in January, it is now responsible for a quarter of the cases in the U.S. The CDC says that 39% of the cases being spread in New York and New Jersey is BA2.
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is now suggesting that a fourth shot of the COVID vaccine could help people who are 65 years old and older. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that a fourth shot can provide a boost in antibodies, but it's not necessarily effective in preventing infection of the Omicron variant.
The FDA will get together next month to talk about when the COVID-19 booster shot should be part of its annual vaccine campaign.