The number of people hospitalized in New Jersey for COVID infections have reached their highest levels in months, now topping one thousand statewide.

State Health Department data lists 1,046 people hospitalized, with 195 patients needing life supporting care and 105 on ventilators.

This is not due to the new omicron variant, which has yet to be confirmed in New Jersey or anywhere in the U.S. The increase is coming from a surge in cases as the colder weather arrives and more activities are moving inside.

On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy urged residents to move outdoors whenever possible as the virus is spread more easily indoors.

Meanwhile, even though there is little evidence the omicron variant of COVID causes more severe disease, federal health officials continue sounding the alarm.

Doctors in South Africa, where the mutation was first discovered, have said they have seen mainly mild to moderate illness in patients that have tested positive for the variant.

White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci is focusing on what we do not know. How transmissible is it? Can it evade current vaccine protections?

Fauci suggested current vaccinations and boosters will offer some level of protection, and again on Tuesday continued to promote vaccinations and booster shots before omicron takes hold in the United States.

President Joe Biden is expected to release the U.S. strategy for combating omicron in the coming days.

The administration, meanwhile, is moving to toughen testing requirements for international travelers to the U.S., including both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

According to the Associated Press, that may include requiring that all air travelers to the U.S. be tested for COVID within a day before boarding their flight. Currently those who are fully vaccinated may present a test taken within three days of boarding.

There were questions about whether the current testing will detect the omicron variant, and preliminary data suggests they will. The FDA says laboratory tests almost certainly will detect omicron and all other variants.

The maker of one of the most popular at-home COVID tests says their product will also detect the omicron variant. Abbot Labs is the maker of the binaxNOW test, and released a statement saying their home test does not rely on the spike gene to detect the virus. It's that spike gene where scientists have detected significant mutations in omicron. The FDA agreed, for now, that home tests should remain accurate, but says more study is needed.

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