By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

New Jersey is hoping for the first COVID-19 vaccine to arrive within a couple of days, pending approval for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.

However, Gov. Phil Murphy said the numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to paint a sobering picture. 

On Thursday, the Vaccines and Related Biological Materials Advisory Committee recommended that the Food and Drug Administration should grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s vaccine. 

The FDA still has to vote on whether to grant authorization, Gov. Phil Murphy said, but if the FDA grants it, the vaccine will arrive in New Jersey within a matter of days. 

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the health care workers who will be eligible for the first shipments of vaccines include paid and unpaid staff. In addition to doctors, nurses, orderlies and essential support staff, this group includes doulas, midwives, vendors that have to visit hospitals as part of their business, and medical students who visit hospitals and observe as part of their training. 

Numbers of patients in hospitals have risen over the past week, with more than 3,500 patients currently hospitalized, Murphy said. “It is going up. If I’m looking for slivers of silver lining, or good news, it’s going up at a lower rate.” 

Ten bars around the state today had their liquor licenses suspended, with one for as long as 115 days, for non-compliance with state executive orders, said State Police Superintendent Pat Callahan. 

Although most bars and restaurants have been complying with the rules on indoor dining, Murphy said the license suspensions were a warning to eateries that did not believe the rules applied to them. “We will not tolerate knucklehead behavior, and we will not hesitate to shut you down.” 

Today’s numbers

As of Dec. 11, state health officials reported 3,821 new cases, compared to 5,370 on Dec. 10. The total now stands at 390,256.

The positivity rate now stands at 9.95 percent, down from 13.18 on Dec. 9. 

The rate of transmission has now begun to reflect recent spikes in cases: 1.14, up from 1.10 on Dec. 9. 

An additional 55 deaths have been confirmed, compared to 68 on Dec. 10. The total now stands at 15,794 deaths, along with 1,868 probable deaths. An additional 54 deaths have been reported in hospitals, but not yet confirmed as COVID-19.

Hospitals reported 3,571 patients on Dec. 10, including 687 patients in critical care and 421 on ventilators. The day before, hospitals reported 3,545 patients, including 644 critical care patients and 412 ventilators in use. 

Essex County health officials reported 370 new cases, compared to 434 on Dec. 10, bringing the total to 40,110. Another three deaths were reported, compared to nine on Dec. 10, bringing the total to 2,058.

Montclair health officials reported 17 new cases on Dec. 10, bringing the total to 1,106. The township also reported its first new death in several months, bringing the total from 57 to 58.