COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise in New Jersey

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey health officials are concerned about rising hospitalizations, saying over the past two weeks, new COVID-related hospitalizations are up 28%.

The largest increases are among younger adults.

"A 48% increase among individuals 40 to 49," said New Jersey Health Department Commissioner Judy Persichilli during Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing.

And there was a 31% increase in hospitalizations for ages 20 to 29 in New Jersey.

"I would say just because of no masks and people are around each other a lot," said Anthony Secouler, of Cherry Hill.

"I think people are just really tired of everything that's going on. I think they're mask fatigued, that's what they've been calling it at my school," said Chase Harris, a teacher from Sewell.

Officials at Virtua Health say their hospitals have seen a small increase in COVID-19 patients since February.

"We're seeing people traveling, we are starting to see that holiday gathering again," said Dr. Martin Topiel, Virtua's infection prevention officer.

He's also noticed fewer elderly patients in their hospitals due to vaccinations.

"I think we're in a race right now between the vaccination process and the development of the variants," said Topiel.

At Cooper University Hospital, Dr. Adam Green says right now, hospitalizations are relatively low with an even spread of demographics.

Green is a critical care doctor who has been treating COVID patients from the start of the pandemic. He reminds people of the CDC's guidance on vaccine protocol: once you get a vaccine, it takes two weeks after your final dose before you can be considered fully vaccinated.

"We have seen patients who will get one vaccine and then maybe they become a little more liberal with their precautions and then they end up getting COVID before the vaccine took effect," said Green.

While doctors at both Virtua and Cooper say they are much better equipped to treat COVID-19 one year into the pandemic, they are concerned about a spring surge in hospitalizations and urge people to be careful.

State officials anticipate that hospitalizations will continue to rise in April and May.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.