This afternoon, Governor Murphy held a press conference and reported an additional 3,285 new positive PCR tests, increasing the statewide total to 660,067. An additional 64 deaths were announced, increasing the statewide total to 20,147. The positivity rate is at 7.19% for tests taken on Monday. The rate of transmission is 0.81. 5 new cases of COVID UK variant have been reported - 2 in Ocean County, 1 in Passaic, 1 in Morris, 1 in Hudson - with a statewide total of 38. There have been 1,244,224 total vaccinations in NJ, with 933,160 first doses and 310,529 second doses.
The Governor signed an Executive Order allowing a limited number of parents and guardians to attend indoor/outdoor high school and other youth sporting events, effective immediately. School districts and other operators may choose to allow up to two parents/guardians per participating athlete under the age of 21 to attend practices, competitions as long as attendance does not cause indoor events to exceed 35% of the room’s capacity or 150 people total. The Executive Order can be found here.
The Governor also announced that the State will be launching community-based vaccine sites in 10 cities. This program will be operated by five teams and will serve ten cities, starting next week with Franklin Township in Somerset County, Trenton, and Elizabeth, with Vineland and Paterson in line to quickly follow.
The April 20th school and fire district elections and May 11th municipal elections will be in-person. Mail-in ballots can also be requested. There has not been a decision made on the June primary elections, but the Governor is optimistic that they will be in-person as well.
As reported from the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) the initial open enrollment period for NJ closed on January 31st with 269,500 policies purchased and more than 75,000 new customers since November 1st. The average plan costs $121/month after financial assistance. Governor Murphy is holding a special enrollment period through May 15th for anyone who still needs health insurance. Visit getcovered.nj.gov for details.
The Department of Health Commissioner, Judy Persichilli announced that the vaccination call center has taken over 50,000 calls, registered more than 6,000 residents and has scheduled more than 600 appointments. She highlighted answers to some frequently asked questions as well:
- there is no cost for the vaccination, but you must live, work or study in NJ
- pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider and assess risks before getting vaccinated
- once vaccinated, you will still need to wear a mask
- both doses of the vaccination should be with the same product brand
visitation at longterm care facilities is still paused as these facilities are still experiencing outbreaks. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a reopening plan for visitation. More information here.
- it is unknown at this time how often a vaccination is needed.
On Wednesday, Governor Phil Murphy cancelled all in-person events and will be holding press briefings virtually until further notice due to a family member having tested positive for COVID-19, he hopes to resume travel and public appearances on Tuesday of next week. The Governor and First Lady Tammy Murphy tested negative in subsequent tests.
CVS and Rite-Aid will be received direct shipments of vaccines from the federal government this week and are in the process of scheduling appointments. Rite-Aid will only be accepting appointments through NJ's vaccine scheduling system, locations can be found here. To view CVS's appointment scheduling system, click here
The Biden Administration also will be providing additional vaccine supply directly to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which are community-based health care centers that provide primary care services in underserved areas. NJ wasn't selected in the first phase, but Governor Murphy mentioned that this will be an important tool for equity and fairness in the vaccination rollout plan once NJ is selected.
Governor Murphy announced that all loans received as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will not be subject to state taxes and all expenses paid through these funds will be tax deductible, which is welcomed news for NJ's small business owners.
Applications for the NJEDA small and micro business PPE access program will reopen on Tuesday, February 16th. Businesses and organizations with under 100 employees will be eligible to apply for a 65% discount on PPE products. Businesses that were already approved in November or December won't need to reapply. To learn more or apply, click here.
The Governor provided an update for the digital divide in New Jersey schools. In the beginning of the pandemic, there were 231,000 students needing either hardware, internet connectivity, or both. As of Wednesday, the digital divide gap has decreased to 195 students - 85 of which are in Essex County with unsteady internet access.