Despite falling COVID metrics being reported by Gov. Phil Murphy's administration and an overall drop in hospitalizations, many hospitals in New Jersey continue to postpone some elective surgeries.

Patients are being told their noncritical surgeries will not happen for up to three weeks as hospitals deal with both a large number of COVID cases as well as their own staffing shortages.

Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas both say they have been advised by the New Jersey Department of Health to reschedule some elective procedures, and are doing so.

A spokesman for Hackensack Meridian told the Asbury Park Press they are repositioning members of their surgical teams to "support front-line clinical teams" and deal with COVID patients.

Neither hospital group would say specifically what types of procedures are being delayed, but that they are evaluating the situation daily.

Encouraging signs on COVID

Hospitalizations of patients either for or with COVID have been dropping.

Peaking at over 6,000 admissions statewide last week, this morning that number has dropped to 5,250. The number of patients being discharged now outpaces new admissions.

The decline in hospitalizations is the latest encouraging sign that the omicron-fueled surge that began at the start of the year is waning.

Public health officials had predicted as many as 8,000 could be hospitalized by mid-February, but if current trends hold, the worst of the omicron surge may be over.

The rate of transmission has dropped to 1.09. A week ago, it was 1.55.

The number of new positive COVID tests is also dropping. For the first time since New Year's Day, the state's seven-day average has dropped below 20,000.

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