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Judy Persichilli urges New Jersey resident to get the vaccine so that students may return to a normal school year. NorthJersey.com

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Gov. Phil Murphy's administration reported no confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday for the first time since the pandemic's earliest days.

But while the news is welcome, it's also a bit of a technicality. 

New Jersey hospitals reported six COVID deaths in the last 24 hours, but none has yet to be confirmed by state epidemiologists.

Due to the Independence Day holiday weekend, there may be deaths that have not yet been reported to the state Department of Health, said Donna Leusner, an agency spokeswoman. 

Still, the process of confirming COVID deaths from prior days and weeks yielded zero on Tuesday — the first time that has happened since March 17, 2020, when the state had only three confirmed fatalities and was just beginning its strict lockdown.  

As of Tuesday, 23,774 New Jerseyans had died from COVID-19. 

"There’s only one way to make sure we have more days like today: Get vaccinated," Murphy wrote in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.

He wrote the same tweet last month when hospitals reported no new deaths on June 24, the first time since July 30, 2020.  

Mike Kelly: COVID-19 remains alive through those who refuse to be vaccinated. Why?

NJ COVID timeline: Coronavirus in New Jersey: A timeline of events from first cases to the first vaccination

More than 5 million people were fully vaccinated as of midday Tuesday — about 55% of New Jersey's 9.2 million residents. Children under 12 years are not yet eligible for any vaccine.

Deaths and hospitalizations have plummeted since early spring, but they have plateaued in recent weeks. Health officials say this may be due to the highly contagious delta variant, which was recently discovered in New Jersey. 

One important COVID data point on the rise has been the rate of transmission. It has hovered just below one for several days. When it rises above one, it means that the virus is spreading. Below one means it is retracting. On Tuesday, it was at 0.95.

Health officials said the vast majority of those getting infected are unvaccinated. 

Scott Fallon covers the environment for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news about how New Jersey’s environment affects your health and well-being,  please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: fallon@northjersey.com 

Twitter: @newsfallon 

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