Ever since the pandemic began more than a year ago, we’ve been told elderly people faced the highest risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19.

That’s still true. But a growing number of people being hospitalized for COVID in the Garden State are not senior citizens.

Over the past two weeks, new hospitalizations are up 28% in the Garden State with a 31% increase among those ages 20 to 29, a 9% increase among those in their 30s, and a 48% of those in their 40s. Hospitalizations have increased among older age groups as well.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said it is believed the uptick is due to variants "coupled with less cautious behaviors.”

New Jersey COVID medical advisor Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, the former state epidemiologist, said one reason for this trend is we know “the efficacy of the vaccine in the older population who were eligible from the beginning ... has made a difference.”

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He also noted that therapies help prevent hospitalizations when treated early.

Persichilli said while there has been a 16% increase in the number of patients in the ICU, ventilator use has dropped by 4% over the past few weeks, perhaps because younger individuals are less likely to need help breathing even if they are hospitalized.

She noted with the increasing number of positive COVID cases being reported, all New Jersey counties are now classified as high-risk zones.

“Based on this report, we’re expecting continuing increases in hospitalizations and, unfortunately, deaths," she said. "We are definitely in another wave of this virus.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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