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Tommy Landa,10, of Paramus, receives the pediatric COVID vaccine from Nurse Jillian Close at Annex 1 of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, NJ on11/03/21. Tommy is one of the first kids to receive this vaccine. NorthJersey.com

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New Jersey found an unwelcome present under the Christmas tree Saturday, setting another record for COVID infections as the pandemic continued to pick up steam nationwide, wreaking havoc on everything from travel to Broadway shows to staffing in almost every industry.

For the fourth straight day, New Jersey topped its previous record for COVID infections, reaching 16,626 additional cases reported by end of day Friday that are likely being fueled by the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

The new cases eclipsed Thursday's record of 15,630, itself a big jump over Wednesday's 9,711, according to state Department of Health data. 

Reported hospitalizations also rose, inching upward to 2,375 from 2,366 a day earlier. That was still a far cry from the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020 when admissions surpassed 8,000 a day and hundreds were dying. Twenty COVID deaths were reported Saturday, down from 27 on Friday.