This week in Trenton on the COVID-19 front: March 4 marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New Jersey. During his March 3, COVID briefing Governor Phil Murphy reviewed the steps New Jersey has taken in response. In addition, the Governor announced the expansion of eligibility for vaccinations. Executive Orders were issued, expanding capacity for weddings and extending utility shut-off moratoriums.
For March 5, 2021:
- 3,347 new positive cases for a total of 715,889 confirmed cases
- 35 new confirmed deaths for a total of 21,124 confirmed deaths
- The rate of transmission is 1.04
- 737 cases linked to 152 school outbreaks since August
- 2,333,723 vaccine doses have been administered, including 1,544,835 first doses and 788,782 second doses. 53% have been Moderna, 47% Pfizer, and 0% J&J.
On Monday, the Governor announced the expansion of eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccination program to include educators, including support staff, in Pre-K through 12th grade; childcare workers in licensed and registered settings; public and local transportation workers/public safety workers who are not sworn law enforcement or fire professionals; migrant farm workers, members of tribal communities, individuals experiencing homelessness, and those living in shelters. Effective March 29, those in the following fields will be eligible for the vaccine: food production; agriculture and food distribution; eldercare and support; warehousing and logistics; social services support staff; elections personnel; hospitality; medical supply chain; postal and shipping services; clergy; and judicial system.
In addition, the second phase of community-based vaccination sites has been expanded to include Camden, Jersey City, Orange, Newark, and Pleasantville. These sites will provide vaccine access to members of the immediate community. A vaccination support team from the Department of Defense will provide the clinical staffing at the sites, and FEMA will provide non-medical support. Each site will be able to vaccinate approximately 1,800 people per week, and vaccinations at each location will take place over a two-week period, followed by a return to administer second doses.
It was also announced that Johnson & Johnson will be partnering with New Jersey-based Merck to produce the J&J vaccine.
The State continues to assist residents, with live agents from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., in getting information on how to register, as well as how to schedule vaccine appointments as people become eligible. The agents remind residents that there is no out-of-pocket expense to get vaccinated and that the two vaccines are not interchangeable.
The state continues to encourage the general public to pre-register for eligibility for the vaccine online. Individuals will be permitted to input their personal, contact, health insurance, and demographic information. Those who are immediately eligible based on screening questions will be able to schedule an appointment.
Executive Order 228: Increasing capacity limits for indoor wedding receptions to 35% room capacity but no smaller than 10 and no larger than 150. In addition, outdoor wedding receptions can be no larger than 150. The reception venue staff is excluded from the capacity limit. The order took effect March 5 at 6:00 a.m.
Executive Order 229: Extending the moratorium on utility shut-offs to June 30, 2021. The moratorium applies to residential gas, electric, and water utilities, both public and private. Utilities will not be permitted to charge late fees or reconnection fees for services that have been disconnected. In addition, cable and telecommunication providers are prohibited from disconnecting internet service in households that have one or more school-age child that may be using the services for educational purposes.
The Department of Labor announced for the week ending February 27, the initial weekly unemployment claims total was 10,384, the lowest in a year and a 3.5% decline week over week. This is the third straight week of decline. In addition, the Department of Labor plans to process a new batch of FEMA Lost Wages Assistance payments for claimants who have become eligible for this federal benefit retroactively since the last time the payments were processed. Eligible claimants can expect to receive separate payments in their direct deposit accounts or debit cards early next week.
Contact: Lori Buckelew, Assistant Executive Director, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 x112.